CHEYENNE — Governor Matt Mead announced the “High School Girls CyberStart Challenge” — a Cybersecurity initiative sponsored by the SANS Institute. SANS is a trusted and significant source for information security training and security certification in the world.
The competition is open to Wyoming high school junior or senior girls who are at least 16 years old. Contestants will learn cybersecurity skills and test their aptitude through a no-cost online game of discovery called CyberStart.
“The Cyberfirst Girls Challenge is an opportunity for students to learn to protect digital assets while honing skills in technology,” said Governor Mead. “Cybersecurity and computer technology are career fields that have seen tremendous growth over the last decade. Jobs in technology are in high demand and are high paying. This gives kids the chance to learn more and it fits well with the ENDOW initiative.”
State CIO Tony Young shared “Today we compete with every type of business for employees who understand the importance of Cybersecurity. This program is one more way for us to encourage girls who are interested in careers in technology to receive exposure and training relevant for the future.”
Participants in the Cyberfirst Girls Challenge will have the opportunity to share in $150 Scholarships, registration and travel to Chicago for the Women in CyberSecurity Conference (WiCyS) held March 23-24 in Chicago, Illinois. WiCyS is a community engagement, encouragement and support for women in cybersecurity. Despite the growing demand and tremendous opportunities in the job market, cybersecurity remains an area where there is a significant shortage of skilled professionals regionally, nationally and internationally.
Each player in CyberStart begins as a “cyber protection agent” responsible for protecting a valuable operational base. The student chooses and solves challenges, earning points along the way. A cyber protection agent field manual provides answers to questions that may arise and offers help when players get stuck. When the player has solved a sufficient number of challenges at one level, a new level opens up and new problems appear – for a total of 31 levels.
“The nation desperately needs more highly-skilled cyber professionals, and we have new evidence that CyberStart will radically improve the quality and preparation of people entering the cybersecurity field,” said SANS Director of Research, Alan Paller. “SANS trains more than 30,000 advanced cybersecurity professionals each year for military and intelligence organizations and large high-tech companies in the U.S. and its allies. We discovered that those who have mastered the topics taught and measured in the CyberStart program do far better than others in the advanced cybersecurity courses that prepare the critically needed people. By opening CyberStart to hundreds of students, we may be able to help the nation identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.”
For more information and to get started playing CyberStart, please visit, ets.wyo.gov/CyberStart.