CyberPatriot competition underway

—Photo courtesy ALEX GRAY Sandpoint High School students take part in the first round of the CyberPatriot competition. The second round will be held next month.

SANDPOINT — Two teams of Sandpoint High School students competing in the national CyberPatriot program recently completed the first round of competition.

CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program centered around the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. This is the second year SHS has entered the competition. Cybersecurity concepts are taught in SHS instructor Alex Gray's information systems classes and the teams are mentored by a local expert from Kochava.

The competition puts teams of high school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. In the rounds of competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services.

"We secure computers that are vulnerable to being hacked by people who do not have good intentions," said Tori Hewitt, SHS sophomore and CyberPatriot team member.

She said teams in previous competitions have created checklists that give the students good examples of what, in particular, to do to secure the computer, so during the competition the students used those checklists to ensure they covered all the bases.

With six hours to complete 40 tasks, each SHS team had a single task left to complete at the end of the competition.  

Hewitt said she is interested in a degree in computer science when she gets to college and is also interested in cybersecurity.

With about 4,500 teams across the nation, they compete for the top placement within their state and region. Top teams in the nation earn all-expense paid trips to Baltimore, Md., for the national finals competition where they can earn national recognition and scholarship money.

CyberPatriot was conceived by the Air Force Association to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or other STEM disciplines critical to our nation's future.

The next competition will be held Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at SHS.

Alex Gray contributed to this report.

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