Students from Eastwood Academy are learning how to keep personal data safe, protect it from vulnerabilities, and “black hat” hackers and malicious software, all while having fun in the process. This is the second year that teams from Eastwood Academy are competing in the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.
The competition positions middle- and high-school students as newly hired IT professionals who must manage the network of a small company, utilizing their knowledge of networking, switches, routers, firewalls, TCP/IP protocols and architecture, and administration of various operating systems. During the competition, students will have to identify network vulnerabilities within a six-hour window.
Eastwood is preparing for the next round of competition, which begins this week, in hopes of one day securing their place as a top team in the nation. The championship would earn the students national recognition and scholarship money.
Eastwood has three teams — “Pink Spice,” “Phenom,” and “Las Papas” — competing against other students across the nation. The teams meet in person each Saturday to study and practice, and created online collaboration groups for further preparation throughout the competition.
“It is very challenging for the students, because they have to learn new skills continuously,” said Eastwood coach Louanne Harvey. “They have no idea until the week of the competition which operating systems they need to work with, so they study and practice on systems they build themselves and are responsible for maintaining.”