By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) –  In the state of Colorado, companies and individuals fight off some 800,000 cyber attacks each and every day according to cyber defense experts.

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William Schneider is leading his team from Regis University in a fight against professional hackers during a regional cyber defense competition.

“You just can’t trust anything, nothing is real,” said Schneider. “They are hackers. They’re simulating the real world, and in the real world hackers don’t play by any rules, but their own.”

William Schneider (credit: CBS)

The competition, sponsored in part by U.S. defense contractor Raytheon, hopes to give real-world experience to students bound for cyber security jobs.

“You can read about a lot of this stuff in books, but until it actually happens to you, you don’t really have a good understanding of what it’s going to be like,” said Evan Anderson.

CBS4’s Joel Hillan interviews Evan Anderson. (credit: CBS)

Anderson is the captain of the “Red Team,” one of the professionals making things tough for the college teams. So-called “ethical hacking” is what he does every day.

“I break in. I get access to all of the information, but I’m not going to do the stuff that real hackers do where it’s steal the information and leak it onto the internet,” he said.

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He then works with companies to secure those vulnerabilities.

Sarah Cunha is part of a team from Brigham Young University. Half of their team is female – a rare sight in the industry.

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“A lot of times you can work off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses in a way that’s powerful,” she said.

Working in teams as a team is valuable asset.

“We get to see first-hand how a potential employee is going to act under pressure,” said Bill Leigher from Raytheon.

Real world experience, leading to real world jobs.

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“Just being at this competition I’ve been approached by many different institutions and companies saying, ‘Hey we’re interested.’ That’s really uplifting in today’s economy,” said Schneider.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.