CyberPatriot is a National Youth Cyber Education Program created to motivate students toward careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program features the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition for high school and middle school students, AFA Cyber Camps, and an Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative. During the competition, which is the largest component of the program, teams of 2-5 students are scored on how well they identify and secure known vulnerabilities on a "virtual image" representation of an operating system. After a series of online qualification rounds, the top teams advance to the National Finals Competition, an in-person event held each spring at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
CyberPatriot is a National Youth Cyber Education Program created to motivate students toward careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program features the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition for high school and middle school students, AFA Cyber Camps, and an Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative.
The competition, the largest program component, consists of three divisions: the Open High School Division (public, private, charter, magnet, parochial, scouting troops, Boys and Girls clubs, approved home school programs), the All Service High School Division (JROTC programs of all services, Civil Air Patrol, US Naval Sea Cadet Corps), and the Middle School Division (students enrolled in middle school, junior high, or equivalent home school level).
Teams of 2-5 students compete in a series of online competition rounds. Prior to each round, teams download “virtual image” representations of operating systems with known flaws, or cybersecurity “vulnerabilities.” The team’s assignment is to find the flaws while keeping specified computer functions (“services,” such as email) working. Team progress is recorded by a central CyberPatriot scoring system. At the end of the qualifying rounds the top scoring teams from each of the three divisions earn all-expenses-paid trips to Washington, D.C., where they compete at the in-person National Finals Competition for the top prize.
The CyberPatriot program began in 2009 as a proof of concept competition among seven high school Air Force JROTC teams and one Civil Air Patrol team. Since then, the program has experienced growth of more than20 percent each year. In just 4 short years the program has gone from 8 teams in Florida to over 1,500 teams in all 50 states, Canada, and DoD Dependent schools overseas. In total, the program has reached over 200,000 students.
After numerous requests from educators for post-season programming, CyberPatriot is happy to announce the rollout of a pilot CyberCamp program in the summer of 2014. The pilot camps will be conducted in CyberPatriot Centers of Excellence, with a full nationwide rollout anticipated in 2015. Through CyberCamps, schools and other educational organizations will be able to order curriculum and competition kits to use to engage students in cybersecurity education throughout the year.
Scholarships and Internships
Since 2011, the Northrop Grumman Corporation has generously awarded scholarships to members of first place, runner-up and third place National Finals teams amounting to more than $205,000 in direct academic financial support to CyberPatriot competitors. Additionally, Northrop Grumman offers CyberPatriot internships in offices around the country, providing participants with professional cybersecurity experience straight out of high school.
By participating in CyberPatriot, students are introduced to an exciting and lucrative career path. In addition to learning teamwork and organizational skills that set them apart in the STEM job market, competitors benefit from direct guidance by industry professionals that volunteer through the CyberPatriot Mentor Program.