A cybersecurity game is giving Delaware high schoolers a chance to learn about a growing industry while competing for scholarship money.
CyberStart is an online game designed to help high school juniors and seniors, who are at least 16, explore the field of cybersecurity, said Elayne Starkey, chief security officer for the Delaware Department of Technology and Information.
“This is a great opportunity for Delaware,” she said. “There's no cost to the parents or students.”
And no cost to the state, either, she said. SANS Institute, a company that provides online cybersecurity certification and training, has partnered with Delaware, one of seven states offering the game. Students from Virginia, Michigan, Rhode Island, Iowa, Nevada, and Hawaii will also compete.
Students interested in playing the computer game have until Friday, July 28, to sign up and begin playing with a chance to win scholarship money. Participants who complete five of the eight practice modules will be invited to compete in the full-scale program that will run Aug. 1-28, Starkey said. The practice round is mandatory for those who would like to compete for scholarships.
“This week is the dry run or tryout period. This period is mandatory to qualify for the August competition,” she said.
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. SANS Institute provides certifications which are considered the gold standard in the cybersecurity industry, Starkey said.
Students need no prior cyber security knowledge to play. Each player begins as a cyber protection agent responsible for protecting an important 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 hints to help when players get stuck. When the player has solved a sufficient number challenges at one level, a new level opens up and new challenges appear – for a total of 31 levels.
In a press release, SANS Director of Research Alan Paller said his company is offering the game because the nation desperately needs more highly skilled cyber professionals.
SANS trains more than 30,000 advanced cybersecurity professionals each year for military and intelligence organizations, and for large high-tech companies in the United States and its allies. “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,” Paller said.
Delaware Gov. John Carney also encouraged students to take advantage of a growing industry.
“Delaware’s future is an innovation economy where technology takes center stage, and our state needs a pipeline of talented cybersecurity professionals,” Carney said.
Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins said he applauds SANS Institute for offering the game.
“The CyberStart program is an excellent and fun opportunity for students who think they may be interested in cybersecurity to determine if they have the passion and aptitude to pursue it as a career,” he said. “I hope young people all across Delaware take advantage of this great opportunity.”
For more information and to get started playing CyberStart, visit DigiKnow.DTI.Delaware.gov.