JROTC units are among the 28 teams competing for the top prize in the CyberPatriot VI competition. ()
Instead of your regular video game session, you can test your skills at a “cyber range.”
Prompted by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in 2011, Merit Fiber Network and the state of Michigan established its first cyber range, an Internet system available for individuals and organizations to test their cyber security skills and take classes to improve them.
The state established its first Cyber Range at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti and plans to expand to Ferris State University in Big Rapids and the Michigan National Guard’s 110th Airlift Wing in Battle Creek. Cyber Range is working with Selfridge Air National Guard Base and National Guard installations at Camp Grayling and Fort Custer.
Classes are available at three experience levels and include certifications for various levels of security expertise, disaster recovery, computer forensics and incident management. You can check it out at www.merit.edu/cyberrange/.
— Oriana Pawlyk
Even middle schoolers are training to keep networks safe.
Twenty-six teams of high school students and two teams of middle school students have advanced to the national finals of the nation’s largest youth cyber defense competition — CyberPatriot VI on March 26-30 in Washington, D.C.
“We don’t teach hacking, we don’t teach offensive techniques, but we very much teach defending against those things — that’s the whole purpose of the competition,” retired Brig. Gen. Bernie Skoch, CyberPatriot commissioner, said in an interview with Air Force Times.
Created by the Air Force Association in 2009, CyberPatriot aims to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
“This is one of the few areas in the world with negative unemployment,” Skoch said. “We estimate that there will be one-third of a million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide next year. ... That’s 330,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs. The average cybersecurity professional [those who defend networks] makes $1,000 a month more than the average cyber employee.
“If I were a young person going out in the world, I’d want to give careful consideration to something that would be rewarding professionally, personally and monetarily,” Skoch said.
The CyberPatriot competition usually consists of two high school divisions, with public, private and home schools competing in the Open Division and Junior ROTC units, Civil Air Patrol squadrons and Naval Sea Cadet Corps units competing in the All Service Division. But this year, CyberPatriot invited middle school students to participate in a pilot competition.
“We heard from a lot of school administrators who said that these students are active online sooner, that they’re exposed to the Internet earlier, and there are risks there they want, but also need, to know about,” Skoch said.
The competition begins with three online rounds, including semifinals. Each team’s goal is to protect virtual images, provided to them by CyberPatriot, in their networks or mobile devices — essentially, to spot weaknesses, fix glitches and secure the network. Teams are scored according to how quickly and effectively they establish and maintain secure networks.
Each team has five primary competitors, one alternate and a coach.
Industry professionals hack the teams who make it to the finals.
More than 1,500 teams registered to participate in the national CyberPatriot competition; 50 advanced to the semifinals.
The Northrop Grumman Foundation, the competition’s main sponsor, will award $2,000 to each member on the first-place team, $1,500 to each member in second place and $1,000 to each member in third place.