Cyber defense competition prepares teens for the future

Cyber defense competition prepares teens for the future. Claudia Coco / WGXA News

WARNER ROBINS, Ga -- The Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins hosted the 808 CyberPatriot Team in their regional cyber defense competition on Sunday. According to the CyberPatriots website "CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation's future."

Alaina Sebald is 17-years-old and she competes on the Georgia 808 CyberPatriots. Her team is going up against other teams from across the state, their job is to find the network vulnerabilities in a made-up company's website in under six hours.

"What I like about this, it gives me experience for real world that I might find myself in," Alaina said.

She said cyber defense is like being a detective, and it's really gratifying when you solve a network vulnerability. These are skills she can use in the future.

"If I'm doing some kind of job in an office, with networks and computers and we don't really have an IT guy per say, I can be that IT guy," Alaina said.

Adam Sebald the coach for Georgia 808 CyberPatriots said this field is definitely growing and the sooner he can get these kids exposed to it, the better.

"The earlier we get the students excited and interested in these kinds of things, the more we can direct and get them excited in career fields that utilize these skills," Adam said.

He said competing with the CyberPatriots will give his team of seven a leg-up when it comes to hiring opportunities.

"Then it looks like I've got some extra skills and experience that maybe one of my peers that didn't compete doesn't have," Adam said.

Alaina said she's only 17, so she doesn't know exactly what she wants to do yet, but the IT field is definitely an option.

"Thanks to CyberPatriot, the IT field is certainly something I could go into," Alaina said.

CyberPatriot is teaching kids to use skills against cyber security issues all companies face today. According to the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, more than 4,000 ransom-ware attacks have occured everyday since the beginning of 2016. That's a 300% increase over 2015, where 1,000 ransom-ware attacks were seen per day.

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