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Cybersecurity competition brings out the best in Centre Wellington students

Local teams included CWDHS FalconTech Terabytches, CWDHS FalconTech Cybeavers and CWDHS FalconTech Cybears.

Cybersecurity competition brings out the best in Centre Wellington students

by Jaime Myslik

CENTRE WELLINGTON - Centre Wellington District High School students are taking on the cybersecurity world.

Three teams, consisting of students from Grades 9 to 12, are taking part in the CyberTitan competition. Run by Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council, it is a branch of the international CyberPatriot competition organized by the U.S. Air Force Association.

“What the competition does is it teaches students how to disinfect images, how to find malware, how to find attacks on their computer and then how to fix it,” said CWDHS computer technology teacher Tim King.

On Nov. 2, during the first round of a three-part competition, he explained students will open images “which have been compromised and fix all the vulnerabilities. And then they also repair any problems, find any bad files and isolate them so we can analyze them.

“Basically they’re doing what a cybersecurity specialist would do in an IT company.”

The students work in Windows and Linux operating systems with  Cisco networking hardware.

Last year was the first time Centre Wellington participated in the cybersecurity competition, which is now in its 11th year. The 2017-18 team of four students placed second in Ontario and in the top five in the country.

This year, CWDHS FalconTech entered three teams of six students in the competition.

Those 18 students have now completed the first round of the competition; the next round is in December and, depending on their standing after two rounds, they could advance to the final round in January.

Those three rounds take place virtually, with students competing from the comfort of their own computer lab. However, tasks get more challenging as the competition progresses, King said.

The top Canadian teams advance to the national competition in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

King said his students approach the task differently than the competition.

“We do one thing at a time, we do it very well and then we do the next thing,” King said.

“And what a lot of other teams do is they try to do all three things at once -  maybe two people, two people, two people - and we don’t approach it like that.

“We do the whole team, on each image, very carefully.”

Grade 12 student Ben Morrison, a member of the CWDHS FalconTech “Cybeavers,” explained his team has members who specialize in different areas, for example Windows, and the other members are on hand to offer support as needed.

“They have to look through a bunch of files,” Morrison said.

“And effectively remove them, because of the way the competition is set up is you’re connected to virtual machines, which are set in a scenario,” said Cybeavers member Zach Becker.

“So the scenario is ... mostly a business, so no media files should be on there.”

The team removes files and programs that shouldn’t be there based on the company’s policy.

The CWDHS FalconTech “Terabytches,” an all girls team, took a similar approach.

“We’ve all been studying different portions and we’ve been taking notes,” said team member Emily Younghans.

“So what happens is we’re going to open up our image ... we go through a ReadMe and we make checklists and we’re doing it step by step.

“So it’s read the ReadMe files, then we’re going to go into forensic questions and then from there we go down to password security, policies and security updates.”

Team members have been preparing since before the end of the 20178-18 school year in June.

The third team, the CWDHS FalconTech “Cybears,” also takes on the tasks one at a time.

“We’re doing one thing but we’re bringing in some extra support so we can make it pretty cool,” said team member Max  King.

The scenarios the students deal with are much more complicated than a simple virus sent via an email photo.

“A lot of these images have military grade attacks on them, so they’re dealing with sort of between country attacks, like major international cybersecurity issues,” Tim King explained.

“It’s the future of warfare and it’s happening all around the world right now.

“So that’s why this competition started - because we are desperately short on people in this field.”

The CWDHS final results were not  available by press time. However, based on the Windows and Linux portion:

- Cybears (Edward Noel, Max King, Nick Robichaud, Monil Patel, Kyle Welsh and Joseph Presseault) came in 11th out of all Canadian teams;

- Cybeavers (Aidan French, Ben Morrison, Quentin Wolkensperg, Zach Becker, Shane MacDonald and Zachary Golding) came in 28th in Canada; and

- Terabytches (Rachel Routly, Emily Younghans,  Alexandra Clark,  Katryna Schletz, Louise Turner and Charlotte Christie) came in 41st in Canada.

November 9, 2018


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