Cyber Security is a topic lightly touched on in K-12 education. Maybe we talk about password strength, maybe online footprint, maybe cyber bullying, but we hardly ever explore the skills in the field that translate into lucrative and important careers for students. Salaries in the industry can easily and quickly reach over $100,000 annually and with the scarcity of talented workers it is said there are two or more jobs available for every single employee in cyber security. I was privileged to be asked to take part in our province's first ever attempt at digging deeper into these skills that will help students fill an industry pipeline demanding over 1500 employees locally per year!
The Cyber Patriot National Youth Education Program offers engaging explorations into cyber security skills at all levels of K-12 education. There is the main grade 6-12 cyber security competition, Air Force Association Cyber Camps and an Elementary level cyber education initiative. I got to see first hand how the competition works as I watched my team from Canada enrolled via Cyber Titan complete an authentic practice round recently. What I witnessed was incredible.
The Cyber Patriot Competition has both a middle school and high school component. Students can choose between Microsoft Windows and Ubuntu Linux operating systems. The sponsors for the event include The Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defence, Cisco, AT&T, Microsoft and of course Facebook. This is not only engaging competition but the biggest names in the business are supporting the event in I'm sure a talent hunting capacity as well.
Teacher (coaches) download an image file for a virtual machine which has numerous vulnerabilities security wise. in teams of 4-6 students use ample resources to fix vulnerabilities scoring points as they go. Executing solutions that further complicate the image result in penalties which can be removed by correcting the error. The fixing takes several hours as students troubleshoot what could cause a Windows or Linux platform to be less secure than ideal. Some user accounts may have weak passwords, the firewall might be off or a whole other range of issues can appear on the virtual machine. In the end students receive a score out of 100pts and submit the score before the image times out.
The competition begins locally with 2 rounds before expanding to state and region finals and winning teams are brought to Maryland to compete in the finals. If you are a teacher who wants to offer a deeper cyber security education for your students because either they want it or you recognize the immense opportunity for student success in life please consider becoming a coach for a team in the competition rounds or exploring the AFA Cyber Camps and Elementary School initiatives available. If there is nothing there for you please consider sharing this resource with a teacher who may be interested! This contest looks to be worth every cent of the $200 entry fee per team and the organization showed major class by allowing Canadian schools to have an extra day for round #1 in order to avoid National Remembrance Day.
You can visit the Cyber Patriot website HERE and follow them on Twitter @CyberPatriot as well as New Brunswick's CyberEDU.ca site adding educational content often.
I'm an experienced Global Minecraft Mentor, Published Educational Researcher, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Apple Distinguished Educator and grade 6-12 technology teacher. @BBTNB