Students compete in cyber security competition


Six students — seniors Sprina Wu, Selena Zhu and Lydia Hu and juniors Radhika Khare, Cindy Shi and Hannah Boyd — participated in the opening round of the Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Education Program’s cybersecurity competition on Nov. 11.
The competition, which involved schools across the United States, provided competitors with six hours to find problems in the computer images sent to them by CyberPatriot.
CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air Force Association to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, all of which the AFA believes are critical to the nation’s future.
The competition puts high school and middle school students in the position of an information technology professional tasked with managing and securing the network of a company. Teams are given sets of virtual information and images that represent operating systems and are then tasked to find vulnerabilities in the images.
In this year’s competition, participating teams were given three different cybersecurity tasks to complete: a Cisco quiz/problem, a Windows 7 image, and an Ubuntu image. Each task consists of multiple problems or vulnerabilities to fix. The competition was based on a point system: If the students found a problem and fixed it, they would get a certain number of points. If they missed a problem or did something wrong, they would lose points.
The competition consists of multiple rounds, and Nov. 11 was just the first. The team scored 157 out of a possible 200 points on all of the problems and images they were given.
The competition will not crown a winner until the elimination rounds, which begin next month. The teams will compete for top placement in their state and region, and the top teams in the nation are given an all-expenses paid trip to Baltimore for the National Finals Competition, where students have the ability to earn national recognition and scholarship money.
The team, which was assembled and coached by recently retired technology teacher Monica Mattey, enjoyed the experience of the competition and was proud of its accomplishment, especially considering most of them had never participated in a competition like this previously.
“None of us have been experienced in cybersecurity before, so we weren’t too disappointed when we earned 157/200 points,” Shi said. “It was really fun but sometimes frustrating.”
It was a learning experience for other students. “Since this is everybody’s first time participating in this competition, I am very proud of what we were able to do and learn in those six hours,” Boyd said.
The CyberPatriot competition can provide an introduction to cybersecurity for those interested in computers. “You don’t need any prior experience to compete,” Hu said. “I’m interested in technology, and it broadened my horizons because I’ve never done anything cybersecurity related.”


Jason Silverman

Back Page Editor