Governor David Ige has announced a partnership between the State of Hawai‘i and SANS Institute to offer high school and college students the opportunity this summer to participate in a free online cybersecurity assessment and exercise called CyberStart.
In coordination with the Hawai`i Departments of Education and Defense, University of Hawai`i, and the Office of Enterprise Technology Services, SANS Institute is encouraging students to participate in the CyberStart program, which involves a game simulation through which students interested in cybersecurity as a career can learn basic cybersecurity skills and test their cyber aptitude. An introductory “practice” version of CyberStart is available through July 28. The full-scale program will run from Aug. 1 to 28.
“CyberStart is an innovative opportunity for Hawai`i students to test and develop skills applicable to careers in high-demand IT security and related fields,” Governor Ige said. “There is clearly high interest in cybersecurity among Hawaii youth, as demonstrated by strong participation in existing programs coordinated by the Department of Education, University of Hawai‘i, and organizations such as Cyber Hui. Exploration of this exciting career path can now continue with CyberStart.”
Students don’t have to travel to participate; all they need is an Internet-connected computer and a desire to explore. Each player starts as a “cyber protection agent” responsible for protecting a hypothetical operational base. The student chooses and solves challenges, earning points along the way. An agent field manual provides answers to questions that may arise and helpful hints when players get stuck. When the player has solved a sufficient number of challenges at one level, a new level opens and new challenges appear – for a total of 31 layers. Experienced players have cited CyberStart as being particularly useful to a wide variety of students because everyone can excel, not just a few superstars.
Students who excel in the CyberStart game will have the opportunity to share in $150,000 in scholarships for further cyber education, and ultimately for $500,000 in scholarships for college and graduate-level training in preparation for highly sought-after industry certifications.
“It’s exciting to see our youth being given the opportunity to excel in cybersecurity with the CyberStart program,” said Reynold Hioki, state cybersecurity coordinator within the Hawai‘i Department of Defense, whose protective mission extends to law enforcement agencies and public sector partners providing critical infrastructure and services to the Hawaii community. “Hawai‘i is taking advantage of CyberStart and other related youth programs like CyberPatriot, CyberCamps, GenCyber, Safe and Secure Online, and Hacker High school that directly contribute to increasing the state’s cybersecurity posture.”
ETS Chief Information Security Officer Vincent Hoang, who is responsible for securing state government information resources and infrastructure, said: “These types of programs provide a fun and interactive environment where students are exposed to challenges of varying difficulty and are approachable at any experience level. This is a great opportunity for students to level up their cybersecurity skills.”
SANS Director of Research Alan Paller added: “SANS trains more than 30,000 advanced cybersecurity professionals each year for military and intelligence organizations and for 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 thousands of students we may be able to help the nation identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.”
To join the program, participants must be 16 years or older and enrolled in any high school or college in Hawai‘i, Delaware, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, or Virginia. For more information click here.