Security | News

High School Network Security Contest Signup Deadline Nears

The registration deadline for CyberPatriot IV, a national high school cyber defense competition in which students are given computer threat scenarios and asked to defend their networks from attack, is Saturday, October 8.

The contest, which is produced by the Air Force Association, is open to all high schools, accredited home school programs, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) units, and Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) units in the United States. So far, 850 teams from 47 states, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools in England, Germany, Japan, and Korea have signed up.

Teams are divided into two competitions: open division, for accredited public or private institutions or registered home school associations; and all service division, open to JROTC and CAP students.

Groups must consist of two to five students and up to five alternates who must be at least 13 years old and enrolled in grades 9-12. Each team will have a coach, usually a teacher or JROTC/CAP leader, and technical advisers to help students prepare for the competition.

Teams should use one computer with the following requirements:

  • 1 Ghz Intel x86 compatible processor (2 Ghz with virtualization extensions recommended);
  • 2 GB RAM;
  • 20 GB of free disk space;
  • DSL or faster network connection;
  • XGA (1024x768) or higher display (a projector to allow all students to see the display is recommended);
  • Windows 2000 or later, OS X 10.4.11 or later, Linux 2.4.10/2.6.4 or later;
  • Zip client capable of handling encrypted Zip files; and
  • VMware Player for Windows or Linux, or VMware Fusion for OS X.

In each round, students will be provided with one to three virtual machines. They each contain several network threats, and students must figure out the problems and solve them. The machines will have Windows or Linux operating systems.

There will be a preliminary round, then the teams will compete again in a series of online rounds to determine the top 24 teams. The winners will go, all expenses paid, to the national finals competition March 22-23 in National Harbor, MD.

The schedule for the competition is:

  • All service division round 1--October 28-29;
  • Open division round 1--November 4-5;
  • All service division round 2--December 2-3;
  • Open division round 2--December 16-17;
  • All service division round 3--January 13-14;
  • Open division round 3--January 27-28.

"CyberPatriot gives high school students an inside look at an exciting field while building skills highly relevant to a successful future, such as teamwork, leadership, and critical-thinking," said Bernie Skoch, CyberPatriot commissioner. "This competition provides an exciting environment for students, and at the same time, joins the nation in attempting to bolster interest in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] education."

For more information, visit, or send an email to [email protected].

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.