We are all busy but we have to make time to study and pass on our knowledge and experience by mentoring.
This year a coworker and I started mentoring a High School JROTC CyberPatriot team near our office.
CyberPatriot brief history and information
CyberPatriot is now in its tenth year! What started off as just a few teams have grown to 5584 teams this year. There are three divisions, "Service" are JROTC teams, "Open" are high school teams that are not in JROTC, and finnally, "Middle School". In the San Antonio area, there are 309 teams registered.
It is a Blue Team World!
Students download virtual machine images (Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows 2008 R2 Server, Ubuntu 14, Ubuntu 16) that have issues and problems to solve. Plus, this year they are quizzed on networking information. They are given a six-hour window to solve a series of issues that we as security professionals have to solve every day. As issues are resolved, a cloud scoring engine displays the current score.
Is the system patched, do users have excessive rights, are the applications setup right, did someone install an application that is out of policy? These are the type of questions we ask every day as security professionals and the type of tasks the students are asked to solve in competition.
What can a mentor do?
Since it is our first year to mentor we are learning too. The coaches and mentors got together and discussed what the teams need. For one thing, they had to do the competition with a cellular Mi-Fi access point because the school did not provide the unfiltered access needed for the competition.
Our company has a robust courtesy Wi-Fi system that provides ten times the download speed and thirty times the upload speed of their Mi-Fi access point.
For the weeks leading up to the competition, you can also teach some short lessons to the teams or provide tips to help them think through problems.
So on Friday, November 3rd we hosted the two teams in our conference rooms for Round 1. One team scored 94 out of 100 on the Ubuntu 14 image and 95 out of 100 on the Windows 7 image. This was fantastic.
How did we find a team? We went to uscyberpatriot.org and located a team in our area. While there we signed up to be a mentor. Mentors can sign up year round!
The Proactive Approach
We just called the closest school and asked for the computer teacher and they put us in touch with the teams' coach. Then we signed up to be volunteers at the school district.
The coach was happy for the help. For the most part, the students just took the online classes and worked with the computer teacher. Their coach is a retired Major that is not a computer security person.
Mentors get some benefits too like free Microsoft MSDN licenses, Microsoft Windows training, Linux training, and Cisco networking training.
The biggest benefit is watching the future of the IT security workforce grow right before your eyes. In a few years, these students will be the security and business leaders we all need for the future.
Now that Round 1 is over, the results are in.
Out of 145 Service Teams in Texas, our best team finished 6th in the state!!!
Thank you for the summary and tips on how we can get involved. Congratulations on the great results and thank you for your contribution to our future!