Cyber Challenges for High School Young Adults

So I realized that last year I put together a list of information security and programming resources that parents and educators can use/point kids to to help them learn about that content. The compiled document is here and, my good friend @grecs published it in a nicer format in his Novainfosec Blog.

I was recently looking for resources for high school students to learn about information security and found just a few places. What I was specifically looking for were non-college youth-focused resources and groups not just your normal “do a CTF or online course”…stuff tailored directly to high schoolers. Below is what I found.

The resources are (in no particular order):

  1. CyberAces
  2. CYBERPATRIOT
  3. Hacker High School
  4. picoCTF

CyberAces

http://www.cyberaces.org – Founded by the SANS Institute

Features:

  • Trainings
    • Must register to see them
  • Competition
    • State level

Synopsis from their site:

“We identify, enable, and encourage young Americans with high aptitude for technical achievement in information security to discover their talents, develop their passion, and determine where their talent can be nurtured so they can make a major contribution to the physical and economic security of the US and its enterprises.

The Cyber Aces foundation achieves its mission by offering challenging and realistic cybersecurity competitions, training camps, and educational initiatives through which high school, college students, and young professionals develop the practical skills needed to excel as cybersecurity practitioners and to become highly valued citizen-technologists.”

My comments:

From looking at their site and the responses I’ve received from people around the Internet, this is the program to start with. The trainings and content are superior and it is connected to many other efforts such as the US Cyber Challenge. from their website, it appears as though this is not just “defend your systems” but includes other aspects of cybersecurity.

CYBERPATRIOT

https://www.uscyberpatriot.org/ – US Air Force Association

Features:

  • Trainings
    • PDFs
    • Images
    • Webex Recordings
  • Competition
    • Local, Regional and then National

Synopsis from their site:

At the core of the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. The CyberPatriot program began in 2009 with a proof of concept competition among six high school Air Force JROTC teams and one Civil Air Patrol team. Since then, the program has experienced per annum growth of more than 20%. The CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition is now open to public, private, and charter high schools, home schools, JROTC units, CAP Squadrons, NSCC Units, scouting troops, and Boys & Girls Clubs. Additionally, CyberPatriot VI marked the introduction of a Middle School Division, which welcomes public and private schools, as well as the other organizations listed above to field teams of students pursuing middle school or junior high education.  

Prior to each round, teams download “virtual image” representations of ope​​​rating systems with known flaws or cybersecurity “vulnerabilities.” The goal is to find and fix these flaws while simultaneously keeping specified computer functions (“services,” such as email) working. The central CyberPatriot Competition System (CCS) scores teams’ progress towards the successful completion of each image. 

My comments:

This appears to be a mostly “defend and secure your systems from attack” program. The trainings consist mostly of PDFs and links to other Internet-based resources such as videos on other sites. The competition looks well-structured.

Hacker High School

http://www.hackerhighschool.org/  – ISECOM

Features:

  • Trainings
    • PDFs

Synopsis from their site:

“Hacker Highschool provides a set of hands-on, e-book lessons designed specifically for teens to learn cyber security and critical Internet skills. These are lessons that challenge teens to be as resourceful and creative as hackers with topics like safe Internet use, web privacy, online research techniques, network security, and even dealing with cyber-bullies. The full program contains teaching materials in multiple languages, physical books with additional lessons, and back-end support for high school teachers and home schooling parents.

My comments:

This program looks more broad than the others with PDFs in forensics and malware analysis as well as defense. This site and its trainings are also found in many different languages which may make the courses more easily understood by some students.

picoCTF

https://picoctf.com/2014

Features:

  • Trainings
    • Videos
  • Competition
    • Yes

Synopsis from their site:

picoCTF is a computer security game targeted at high school students and above. The game consists of a series of challenges centered around a unique storyline where participants must reverse engineer, break, hack, decrypt, or do whatever it takes to solve the challenge. The challenges are all set up with the intent of being hacked, making it an excellent, legal way to get hands-on experience.”

My comments:

This appears to be more of a cyber challenge that has some training modules associated with it.

If you know of high school groups (not general or college ones), please reach out and let me know.

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