Cyber Foundations Online High School Competition Begins October 21

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More than 2,000 Will Compete For Chance to Become Cyber Security Superstars

The U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) will kick-off its fall Cyber Foundations competition this Friday, with 2,034 students from 169 schools, 32 states and 3 U.S. territories participating. The online competition, conducted in collaboration with the SANS Institute, features a series of quizzes in the most important foundational fields of cyber security: networking, operating systems, and system administration. The top scoring students in each school and state will earn recognition and awards for their achievements. Those with an interest and aptitude may go on to pursue a career in cyber security and help fill the critical gap in the nation’s cyber workforce.

Cyber Foundations participants are provided with on-line tutorials and video education materials on the three foundational fields, after which they take quizzes that allow them to demonstrate mastery. Each topic has a separate set of materials and a separate test. The first quiz is on October 21, the second on November 4 and the third on November 18. Winners will be announced later in November. Prizes will be awarded as follows:

High School Champions: The top-scoring student in each high school will receive an engraved award.

State Champions: The top three scoring students in each state will receive engraved trophies and the top winner will receive a $250 gift card.

National Champions: The top five scoring students in the nation will receive a scholarship in the amount of $2,500, $1,500, $1,000, $750 and $500 for first through fifth places respectively.

Cyber Foundations has received broad endorsement from federal, state and local officials, educators and parents. The number of students participating has more than doubled since the spring Cyber Foundations competition, in which almost 1,000 students from 135 schools participated.

"This competition is a fun and innovative way to help meet the urgent need to develop young talent in the cyber security field, which remains woefully lacking in top professionals," said Congressman Jim Langevin, who co-founded the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and took the lead in launching the contest in Rhode Island. "The Center for Internet Security has created an ideal model for partnering education, business and government to improve our cyber workforce, and I encourage other industries to take note."

“At the present time educational options for poor and middle class students are few and far between. Public school budgets are being slashed at the same time that the cost of college is skyrocketing. In this most severe environment, Cyber Foundations is one of the few beacons of educational opportunity for students from modest backgrounds,” said Erle Hall, Public Services Industry Sector Lead, California Department to Education. “Cyber Foundations also presents an avenue for students of color and female students to engage in a STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] activity that is also a contest involving information technology--two areas where minority and female students are underrepresented.”

The skills being taught through the competition are fundamental for success in the cyber security field and are in high demand. The competition offers an opportunity for students to explore cyber security as a potential career option while competing for awards and recognition.

Cyber Foundations is an entry-level competition and participants do not need prior computer experience. Alyssa Rahman, a home-schooled student from Arkansas, had never taken any cyber security courses prior to participating in the spring Cyber Foundations. She scored 20th in the country and was the top-scoring female. “I really enjoyed getting the broad overview of the [cyber] field. It helped me figure out what areas I wanted to focus my attention on and learn more about in the future.”

"The reason more than 2,000 high school students are already engaged in this fall's competition is that they see this as a cool way to get involved in technology and it's fun," said Alan Paller, Director of Research at the SANS Institute. "Their parents say they like it because it prepares their children for the fastest-growing high-paid careers in the United States. The teachers like it both because it doesn't demand that they spend a lot of time preparing, because of the courses that are provided, and also because teachers whose kids do especially well get scholarships to the advanced cyber security training -- something they would never have been able to afford without Cyber Foundations."

“As we celebrate national Cyber Security Awareness Month, Cyber Foundations is a perfect way to engage our students in cyber security training that is fun yet challenging,” said William F. Pelgrin, President and CEO of the Center for Internet Security, which coordinates U.S. Cyber Challenge. “The importance of providing these opportunities cannot be overstated – the future of our cyber security workforce depends on it.”

“We have many new states and schools joining us for this round of Cyber Foundations, and we are grateful to our state and school coordinators for all their help in getting students registered,” said Renée N. McLaughlin, USCC Executive Director. “We also thank our sponsors and partners who help make all of this possible.”

In addition to the partnership with the SANS Institute, a number of other sponsors supported the registration of schools across the nation: Wilmington University, California State Polytechnic University Center for Information Assurance, McCabe Software, the NYS Office of Cyber Security, and Advance IT Minnesota.

About U.S. Cyber Challenge:
The mission of the U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC), a division of the Center for Internet Security, is to significantly reduce the shortage in the cyber workforce by identifying, recruiting and placing the next generation of cyber security professionals. USCC is a national coalition of public-private sector entities collaborating to enhance the workforce with the next generation of cyber security professionals through skill development activities, mentoring, and resources, and the facilitation of scholarship, internship and employment opportunities. USCC's goal is to find 10,000 of America's best and brightest to fill the ranks of cyber security professionals where their skills can be of the greatest value to the nation.

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