WHS CyberPatriot Club on to Semi-Finals of National Competition, Achieves #2 Spot in State

Did you know that Weston High School has a cybersecurity club? Well, the ‘cats are out of the bag so to speak as the club, after one year’s existence, is on to the semi-finals of the national competition. Here’s the news from the official release:

The Weston High School CyberPatriot Team has been named a semi-finalist in the platinum category (the top division nationwide) in the CyberPatriot XV Cyber competition, winning the number 2 spot in Massachusetts.  The Team is made up of Nicholas Dai, Colin Duggan, Max Zou, Thomas Li, and Siyang Ding.

The National Platinum Semi-finalist rank was achieved by outscoring over 2,000 seasoned Cyber teams from all over the nation. They did this by scoring in the top 30% Nationwide in a set of two cumulative qualifying rounds then attaining a score in the top 25% of all platinum qualifiers (highest division). Currently, the Weston Cyberpatriot team stands in the top 5% of teams nationwide. 

The Owl caught up with faculty advisor Michael Sanford yesterday by email:

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Owl: How long have we had a cybersecurity club?

Mr. Sanford: The club started last year. It was initiated and led by a very capable and motivated freshman (now a sophomore).  Siyang Ding has led the team in weekly meetings after school on Thursdays.  The club needed a separate after-school time rather than meeting during activity block to meet, learn and practice because many of them participated in other clubs such as Math Club, Computer Club, and DECA (Business club).

What led you to become the advisor?

As you can tell, I am a big fan of all these students.  They meet once a week on their own time to practice and learn.  They challenge each other to learn new skills and apply problem-solving techniques, and they work to try and bring on new ‘beginner’ students  

Semi-finalist ranking means that the team is in the next round which is January 20 and 21, correct?

Yes, they are planning their meeting time during those two days now.

Do you have any examples of the challenges they have to solve?

In essence, they are being challenged with a virtual environment where they need to work together to seek out, research and investigate all areas for vulnerabilities; places where an environment is prone to cyber-attacks.  They face real-life examples in computer operating systems (multiple) and networked environments where someone with nefarious interests could take advantage of these insecurities to do real damage.  These are real-life scenarios and they must collaborate, communicate, document, as well as process the competition steps in great detail if they are to succeed.   

The CyberPatriot describes the competition as:

“CyberPatriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition challenges teams of high school and middle school students to find and fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities in virtual operating systems. Using a proprietary competition system, teams are scored on how secure they make the system. Top teams advance through the online round of competition, and the best of the best advance to the in-person National Finals Competition.

Each team has two challenges during their six-hour competition period:

  • Network Security Challenge: involves finding and fixing security vulnerabilities in Windows and Linux operating systems.
  • Cisco Networking Challenge: consists of an online quiz and a virtual networking exercise based on specific training materials.”

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How impressive is that? Here, I’ll answer for you without AI: Very.

Good luck, Weston CyberPatriots and Go ‘Cats!

For more information on the CyberPatriot program, please see here: https://www.uscyberpatriot.org/.

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