Isle youth teams compete in cybersecurity program

Isle youth teams compete in cybersecurity program

Today the cybersecurity field is growing rapidly, with more new and vital roles to fill in government and the private sector than the number of qualified applicants.

To prepare our future network defenders, CyberPatriot, a national education program, is working to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM fields.

Created by the Air Force Association, a nonprofit organization, CyberPatriot features a National Youth Cyber Defense Competition in which students defend networks against online adversaries.

The competition began in 2009 with nine high school teams. This year's competition, which is now also open to middle school students, drew more than 2,100 teams from all 50 states, including at least 30 teams from Hawaii.

The CyberPatriot competitions began as a series of scored online events with two rounds taking place in October and November. Successful teams will advance to the state rounds in December and regionals in January. The top-scoring finalists qualify for an all-expenses-paid trip to the CyberPatriot National Finals Competition in the nation's capital in March.

In 2013, Leilehua High School made it to the national finals after finishing as the top Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) qualifier in the nation. The Mighty Mules team was one of 14 finalists in the All Service Division. Teams are assigned a variety of objectives to improve the security of network and systems infrastructure. Tasks have included:

  • Locking down and maintaining the availability of network services
  • Applying software fixes to vulnerabilities
  • Identifying and removing malware infections

CyberPatriot offers interested students an exciting opportunity to learn and test the waters in the cybersecurity realm.

A CyberPatriot team requires a coach, such as a teacher or adult leader of an organization. Coaches do not need to have a special technical background. Any teacher or youth organization leader who wants to help students can be a CyberPatriot coach.

Teams of two to six students must register with the CyberPatriot Program office and must be enrolled with the school or organization they are representing. All cyber teaching materials are provided, and there is no course or skill prerequisite for the program. Any student with interest can join a team.

If a team needs help with computer basics, the team coach can request help from qualified technical mentors who are local volunteers with appropriate IT knowledge and skills. Some of my Hawaiian Telcom colleagues and other local IT professionals serve as volunteer mentors.

CyberPatriot is also a member of the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a national coalition of public-private sector entities collaborating to enhance the workforce with the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. For more information, please visit www.uscyber-patriot.org.

Vincent Hoang is an enterprise architect at Hawaiian Telcom, a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), GSNA Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). Reach him at vincent.hoang@hawaiiantel.com.

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