(CBS) – This week, the biggest-ever cyber attack — targeting more than 400,000 websites – became the latest reminder of how vulnerable we are online.

Protecting against attacks like that is the purpose behind a competition held in Palos Hills Friday.

CBS 2’s Chris Martinez reports.

In a dimly lit room, they’re thinking like thieves.

But it’s not crime; rather, it’s competition.

“We’re trying to find really the most talented people across the country,” says John Sands, chairman of Moraine Valley Community College’s Computer Integrated Technologies Department.

More than two dozen competed in the U.S. Cyber Challenge.

Their task: Think like the people behind the world’s biggest online hacks so that they can figure out ways to protect consumers.

The problem is, when it comes to cyber security there is a shortage of the good guys.

Part of Friday’s goal is to find the next generation of cyber security stars.

Some of them will possibly hold the newest ideas to stop the next big breach before it starts.

“These people will be the ones that make the difference out in corporate America,” Karen Evans, national director of U.S. Cyber Challenge, says.

More than 1,600 people from more than 700 schools nationwide applied to be part of the challenge. Some of them will compete in two other competitions held this year.