Cybersecurity is Focus of Competition Aboard USS Yorktown

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The USS Yorktown and her crew faced enemy threats during conflicts ranging from WWII – Vietnam.  In December, a new ‘crew’ aboard ‘The Fighting Lady’ once again faced a threat – this time in the form of cyber attacks.

On Saturday, Dec. 1, Naval JROTC cadets from Summerville High School and Air Force JROTC cadets from Ashley Ridge High School converged aboard the USS Yorktown to participate in CyberPatriot V – The National High School Cyber Defense Competition.

CyberPatriot is a nation-wide cyber defense competition for high school students. With a foundation in cybersecurity and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, the exercise provides students with skills that will help them succeed and are critical to our nation’s future. There are 1,225 teams representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools in both Europe and the Pacific, and Canada registered for this year’s competition.

Teams from Summerville and Ashley Ridge High Schools are competing in the “All Service” Division, which is open to JROTC units from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, as well as Civil Air Patrol and US Naval Sea Cadent Corps units. On Saturday, Dec. 8, students from Wando High School participated in the “Open” competition aboard the Yorktown.  The “Open” competition is open to all high school age students.  AFA Charleston Chapter 297 sponsors both JROTC programs and provides aid to Wando High’s team with support from key local partner Serving Community Labs (SCLabs).

“According to the Department of Homeland Security, there were more than 100,000 reports of cyber incidents in the United States in 2011 and the cost of our vulnerability is enormous,” said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette. “Patriots Point is proud to host this event, which provides the training ground for the future defenders of our information systems. Any one of the students may prevent an enemy state or terrorist organization from creating incalculable damage to our national security.”

CyberPatriot Yorktown 1 Dec 2012 - AshleyRidgeHS AFJROTC 4“Since Northrop Grumman began sponsoring CyberPatriot, the program has reached more than 12,000 students worldwide sparking excitement among today’s youth to help fill the critical gap in our nation’s cyber workforce,” Diane Miller, Northrop Grumman program director of CyberPatriot, said in the October issue of The CyberSentinel. “We are so proud of these students, who have exhibited incredible teamwork and leadership skills, as well as strong technical and network defense skills. CyberPatriot is helping these students navigate the burgeoning cybersecurity career field while emphasizing life skills that are fundamental to future success.”

The competition began November 2 and features additional virtual rounds over the following four months.  The Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 events aboard the Yorktown were the second round of competitions in the event and featured challenges focusing on network security.  A semifinal round will be held on the Yorktown January 12.  All rounds of competition lead to the finals in Washington, D.C. in March 2013, where teams will face challenges in network security and digital forensics.

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