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2015 San Diego Mayors’ Cyber Cup Winners

The 2014-2015 San Diego Mayors’ Cyber Cup competition came to a dramatic conclusion last Saturday when the eight finalists battled it out at the San Diego Super Computer Center at UCSD for top honors. In case you missed the headline in the Ramona Sentinel, here is the result:

NJROTC team wins San Diego Mayor’s Cyber Cup

The team and its mentors and supporters deserve a huge round of applause. While Ramona is a lovely town, it is not exactly the kind of bustling metropolis you normally associate with all things techie. But during its six years, the Mayors’ Cyber Cup competition has done an amazing job of raising awareness of cybersecurity as both a great career choice and a vital part of life in every corner of San Diego County, and beyond.

Communities really get behind their teams, as you can see from this local headline: Del Norte High students learn cybersecurity, vie for Mayor’s Cup. The eight finalists were teams from the following schools, listed here in the order they finished in this year’s competition: Ramona High School; Mira Mesa High School; Westview High School; Robert F. Kennedy Middle School; Troy High School; Canyon Crest Academy; Robert F. Kennedy High School; Del Norte High School. (more…)

What the world needs now, is more cybersecurity skills

Every year IT security professionals gather at the RSA Conference in California, a chance to take stock, meet with peers, and explore new developments in IT security. Two themes stood out at RSA this year:

  • 1. There’s more and more information technology to defend, but
  • 2. The stock of people who have the skills to secure it is dangerously low.

These themes were echoed in a lot of this week’s conference sessions as well as in the many conversations that took place in the corridors and meeting places around San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Adding to the discussion were two new surveys that put some numbers to these themes.

I have included links to PDF versions of the reports here:

For me, the headline findings from the State of Cybersecurity survey were that 76% of respondents said their enterprise had experienced an increase in security attacks in 2014 compared to 2013; and 82% thought it was either likely or very likely that their organization would experience a cyberattack in 2015 (likely = 44%, very likely = 38%). In other words, attacks are on the rise and most organizations realize their systems are likely to be attacked. (more…)

The Winners of the 5th Annual Mayors’ Cyber Cup

The winners will be announced in just a moment, but first the news…

XS 2014-03-19 at 3.10.11 PM
That’s right, the fifth annual running of the San Diego Mayor’s Cyber Cup was covered on television by Channel 10 ABC News who really seem to get how important this event is as a motivator for young people to consider a career in cyber security, one of the hottest job markets today and into the foreseeable future.

For those not yet familiar with the San Diego Mayor’s Cyber Cup, this annual competition, established in 2010, seeks to find and encourage the best cyber security talent in California’s high schools. The competition starts with a practice round, which this year took place in late January. There were over 50 teams participating from more than a dozen schools! The practice round was quickly followed by qualification rounds in February, all conducted over the Internet. Then the top seven qualifying teams came together on March 15 in San Diego for live, head-to-head competition.

And the winners of the 2014 San Diego Mayor’s Cyber Cup are: Canyon Crest Academy!

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Well Done Canyon Crest!

The top team received a check for $2,500, presented by former Interim Mayor and City Council Member Todd Gloria, accompanied by fellow City Council Member, Sherri Lightner. Canyon Crest Academy is part of the San Dieguito Union High School District.

And well done to the runners up! In second place was the team from Westview High School, the school that won last year. In third place was Mira Mesa High School. The other teams that made it to the final round were La Jolla Country Day School, Patrick Henry High School, Ramona High School, and 2012 cup winners, Troy High School.

Winners ALL!

The winning team not only won the title and a year of hosting the very impressive cup that goes with that title, there was also a check. And there were checks for second and third place as well ($1,500 and $1,000 respectively).

But wait, there’s more….The top three teams this year will also be treated to a week of Cyber Boot Camp! Hosted in San Diego by the Internet security company ESET, the Cyber Boot Camp is a lively mix of practical, instructor-led cyber security exercises, plus classroom presentations by experts in a wide range of related fields, from law enforcement to computer forensics, malware research, and career advice. The event will take place during summer recess. Here’s a peek at a past session of Cyber Boot Camp:

boot-camp-690Beyond winning great prizes in the Mayor’s Cup, there is a sense in which we all win from this competition. Right now, our country faces a critical shortage of cyber security expertise. One of the main goals of the project is to address that problem. Through the event and the publicity surrounding it we hope to encourage students of all ages, from all schools, to learn more about information assurance and computer security. Hopefully this will lead many more students to consider these and related STEM fields as possible career paths or courses of study in higher education.

Thanks to All!

This year’s competition would not have been possible without the volunteer work and financial support of many organizations. We will mention some here, but this list is by no means exhaustive. Thanks to Leidos for the use of CyberNEXS, the competition engine used in the event. The Mayor’s Cup is sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), in cooperation with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). With additional support from National University, SDG&E, DTI, TSG Solutions, Blue Pyramid, Minuteman Press, ISSA, TechFlow, DCS Corp, La Jolla Logic, Major Motion Pixels, Bridgepoint Education. Additional sponsors and supporters include Securing Our eCity Foundation, Computers 2 San Diego Kids, ESET, and The Ranger Group. With further assistance from Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Worden and Mr. & Mrs. Dwayne Junker.

We leave you with a photo of the very happy, and decidely cool, third place finishers, Mira Mesa High School:

mira-mesa-690

National University achieves NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education status

This week, Securing Our eCity stakeholder National University became the first school in San Diego, and only the eighth in California, to achieve the coveted National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designation of “National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education“.

National University

The San Diego university’s cyber security program is somewhat unique in that it teaches both theory and the hands-on skills needed to identify and defend against threats. The program uses an innovative Virtual Education Lab (VEL) where professors create scenarios on multiple machine platforms for students to assess and defend in role-playing exercises.

“This national recognition provides tremendous validation for what we are doing at National University,” said Dr. John Cicero, dean of National University’s School of Engineering, Technology and Media in the announcement.

“Nearly every aspect of our lives is susceptible to Cyber Attack and our students are the future Cyber Warriors who will be defending the integrity and security of our national, business and infrastructure data online.”

According to Program Lead, Dr. Ron Gonzales, “MSCSIA students completing this unique and specialized area of professional training are well prepared with both counter defense, and penetration measures associated with computing security”.

We applaud National for its great work and commend all of those who worked so hard to achieve this elite designation.

 

Congratulations SOeC opportunity drawing winner!

In addition to playing Cyber Feud, visitors to the SOeC booth at last week’s San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering also had the opportunity to learn more about SOeC’s mission and activities.

Those visitors who signed up to learn more were eligible for a drawing for a prize bundle and we are delighted to announce the winner: Gary D. of San Diego, seen here with Liz Fraumann, Executive Director of Securing Our eCity Foundation (on Gary’s left) and Pamela Richardson, Securing Our eCity Administrator (on Gary’s right).

soec-winner

That sharp-looking SOeC backpack in the middle is also a rollerbag and is stuffed with cyber security goodies.

Congratulations Gary!

Crowds play Cyber Feud at San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering

On a sunny Saturday in San Diego the crowds turned out in their thousands at PETCO Park to explore science exhibits at the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering. Securing Our eCity was there, as a sponsor and as an exhibitor, raising cyber security awareness with the very popular Cyber Feud game. Here you can see a session in progress, led by ESET’s Brent Curry, closely watched by a crowd of onlookers.

Brent-at-cyber-feud-500

Some 280 people participated in the game, competing for prizes by answering cyber security questions. Many more observed from the sidelines.

The event was a great opportunity to spread the word about Securing Our eCity and numerous requests for follow-up contact were received. As you can see, there was no shortage of attendees, which bodes well for the future of science and engineering and STEM education in San Diego.

science-fair-500

Securing Our eCity also participated in other events during the week-long San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering. On Tuesday, SOeC volunteer Stephen Cobb gave a talk about privacy and social media as part of Science speed Round on the campus of UC San Diego.