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Certification Watch (Vol. 20, No. 26)

In this week's roundup of the latest IT certification news, there's an all-new crop of young wizards of Microsoft Office, tech groups are taking stock of IT salaries both at home and abroad, and more.

U.S. Competition Crowns Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Champions


2017 MOS U S ChampionsGet a certification and see the world! Or at least, you know, visit Orlando, Fla., and maybe even Anaheim, Calif., if you're really good. At the end of last week, Orlando was the site of the annual national competition to determine the best and brightest of America's young Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification holders. The competition is open to MOS-certified students between the ages of 13 and 22, and sends on its six first-place finishers — one each for the two most recent releases (2013 and 2016) of the three signature Microsoft Office products — to compete in a global championship event. The big winners are: Joshua Garrelts of Eisenhower High School in Kansas for Microsoft Word 2016, John Dumoulin of Forest Park High School in Virginia for Microsoft Excel 2016, Dheya Madhani of Green Hope High School in North Carolina for Microsoft PowerPoint 2016, Forrest Liu of Green Hope High School in North Carolina for Microsoft Word 2013, Anirudh Narayanan of Caesar Rodney Hgih School in Delaware for Microsoft Excel 2013, and Dominic Allain of Salmen High School in Louisiana for Microsoft PowerPoint 2013. Each of the winners received a $3,000 cash prize (smaller cash amounts were doled out to second- and third-place finishers) and will represent the United States at the four-day world championship event that kicks off July 30 in Anaheim. Congratulations, champions!


ISACA Urges Greater Attention to Security of Healthcare IT


Just weeks after WannaCry swept through IT networks around the world, the Petya ransomware scare is once again drawing the attention of businesses and organizations to the often sorry state of their information security protective measures. A key area of concern for many, flagged in a frank post to the ISACA Now Blog on Monday, is healthcare IT security. The healthcare industry in general looms as a prize target for hackers, with more than 100 million breaches of medical records just in 2015. Blogger Larry Alton says that hospitals and other care facilities need to take swift action to improve their security. Among his recommendations are comprehensive upgrades to existing computer technology, increased focus on the overall importance of cybersecurity, and greater attention to network security.


Microsoft Launches 'Deep Learning' Course via edX


Microsoft Learning continues to push Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) in the direction of its expansive online education offerings. One particularly exciting new development is the release of a new course that introduces students to the emerging and fast-growing field of "deep learning." Deep learning is subset of the large field of machine learning. The focus of deep learning is on expressing human thought processes mathematically, the better to help machines gather and make sense of information the way that humans do. The new course, Deep Learning Explained, runs six weeks and requires between four and eight hours per week. Like many other MOOCs, Deep Learning Explained is offered free of charge through Microsoft's partnership with edX, but a certificate can be earned for those willing to complete the course and pony up $99.