The third annual CyberThon event was held at Naval Air Station Pensacola from Jan. 20- 22, teaching skills to Pensacola Bay area students interested in the field of cybersecurity.
Designed to provide hands-on experience in cyber defenses, students representing several Northwest Florida high schools, as well as Pensacola State College, University of West Florida, and IWTC Corry Station, competed in several events designed to take down simulated cybersecurity threats to an online banking network.
Hosted at the National Flight Academy by the Blue Angels Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, CyberThon’s goal is to provide students interested in the cybersecurity field with hands-on experience in cyber defense and engagement procedures with instruction from active industry experts.
Pensacola-based Corry Station staff members acted as mentors for the event, providing guidance to the student teams as they used security tools and defense tactics to defend the network against cyber attacks.
“CyberThon is a great opportunity for us to refresh our skills and interact with the next generation of information professionals,” said Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Brandon Janice. “Cybersecurity and information systems are the future of the military, and it’s important for us to reach out to these kids and share our knowledge.”
Elizabeth Durazo, a student at Tate High School, worked with Janice at CyberThon.
“It’s great to get the Navy instructors’ perspective on cybersecurity,” said Durazo. “It’s not very often I get to speak with an expert, so having the opportunity to get their insight is really cool.”
Students from the Joint Cyber Analysis Course at Corry Station had the opportunity to put their developing skills to the test as CyberThon competitors.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to practice what we’re learning in class,” said Seaman Zachary Thorpe, a JCAC student. “CyberThon is a fun and exciting look at the kind of work I could be doing in the future.”
During opening ceremonies, Capt. Bill Lintz, commanding officer of Center for Information Warfare Training, told the students the Navy and civilian cybersecurity communities seek motivated, forward-thinking individuals. He encouraged them to never lose the desire to learn and improve their skills.
“We aren’t looking for the person who knows everything; we’re looking for the person who wants to,” said Lintz. “We provide training, and we put our people on the path to becoming cybersecurity experts, but being labeled an expert doesn’t mean you’re done. There’s always something you don’t know and someone who knows more than you, and we want the kind of people who can recognize that and continue to pursue knowledge in their field.”
Information Warfare Training Command Corry Station, as part of the Center for Information Warfare Training, provides a continuum of training to Navy and joint service personnel which prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.