As I discussed in a previous blog post, CyberPatriot is a national cybersecurity education program, conceived by the Air Force Association, to increase awareness and interest in cybersecurity skills among high school students. The cornerstone of CyberPatriot is a competition where teams of from two to six students uncover and eliminate backdoors into Windows and Linux systems, eradicate malware, and ensure the systems are configured securely (e.g., only authorized users can access them, prohibited applications, files, and services are removed, computer hygiene is maintained, etc.), all in a six-hour time window.
The competition consists of multiple rounds where teams advance based on their technical skills and abilities to research and solve problems. Each round is scored with Round 1 and 2 scores combined to determine which teams advance to different tiers. Round 1, where students secured Windows 7 and 2008 Server virtual images, and Round 2 where they secured Windows Vista, Windows 8, and Ubuntu 12.04 images and completed a Cisco Networking Challenge Quiz are now complete. I was impressed with the knowledge and skills the teams from Stone Bridge High School (SBHS) gained and demonstrated during these rounds as well as teams across the country (and international teams) based on the scores received. Through this process, students also learned how short (or long, depending on skill level) six hours is to identify and remediate configuration flaws and vulnerabilities on multiple systems.
Networking was new this year at this stage of the competition, and one of the SBHS teams had a Perfect score on the quiz—that’s outstanding. The State Round is next, held December 5-7th. Based on the results of Rounds 1 and 2, teams were placed into one of three tiers: Platinum Tier (top 30% of teams), Gold Tier (next 40%), and Silver Tier (final 30%). SBHS teams, based on rankings after the first two rounds, have a good chance to advance to the Regional Rounds at each of the tiers. Of course the competition will be more intense, the vulnerabilities/issues more difficult to find and correct, but with solid teamwork and further study our teams will fare well in the State Round. It will be exciting! The top teams from the State Round will compete in a Regional Round, where Platinum Tier teams can qualify for the National Finals held in Washington, D.C. in March 2015.
Telos is proud to sponsor the SBHS teams as they learn about cybersecurity and securing systems. One of our team members mentioned to me that he used knowledge he gained from CyberPatriot to remove malware from a family member’s computer. Awesome, immediate payback!
Good Luck to all the teams competing. It’s never too late to register to be a Mentor or a Team Assistant for CyberPatriot teams. Teams can use all the support they can get! Cybersecurity professionals, parents, or other adults who want to become involved can visit the CyberPatriot website to volunteer.
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