B-P students compete in cybersecurity competition

A team of senior students at Broadalbin-Perh High School are shown competing in the Air Force Association's CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition on Friday.

BROADALBIN — Broadalbin-Perth Central School District computer science students competed on Friday in a state-level round of a national cybersecurity competition with the goal of advancing to the national semi-finals.

Three teams at B-P were competing in the state-level round of the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. The three teams had previously successfully competed in the first round of the challenge in December to advance to states. They are ranked ninth in New York state.

“I’m very happy with the outcome and how much progress they’re making,” said Billy Eipp, B-P computer science and math teacher. “For me as a teacher, I’m thrilled.”

Eipp said based on their current score, B-P’s top team — which is made up of all seniors — is well positioned to make it past this round and into the national semi-final round. He said their score is about 450 out of 550. Eipp said they will know within a week if the teams advance to semi-finals or not.

“We’ve never had a team score as well as this one,” Eipp said.

Broadalbin-Perth High School student Zane Gromyk is shown competing in the Air Force Association's CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

This competition put teams of students in the position of newly hired IT professionals and tasked them with managing the network of a small company. Teams are charged with reviewing computer codes to make it secure from a team of professional hackers.

Eipp said for the competition the students are given different operating systems all with security flaws.

“They have to go and find what the flaws are and remedy them,” Eipp said. “So, the image coming from the Air Force has a major Russian virus installed on it and they have to be able to find it and remove it, but they don’t know what is corrupt on the operating system.”

One of the students competing, high school senior Devin Becker, said they are given computer services that have issues they have to solve.

“The CyberPatriot gives us different simulations of different computer services like Windows 10 and Windows 8. It’s a full-on issue with something wrong, and our goal is to fix the problem and make it the most secure that we can in the given time period,” Becker said.

Broadalbin-Perth High School student Matt Dobson is shown competing in the Air Force Association's CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Teams across the United States and Canada, as well as from Department of Defense Dependent Schools abroad, compete in a series of online rounds for a chance to earn an all-expenses-paid trip to the in-person finals competition in Baltimore, Md., in the spring. There students have the opportunity to win scholarships and network with industry leaders.

Competing in competitions such as this cybersecurity challenge gives students experience for college and future careers in cybersecurity. Eipp said a lot of colleges are looking for students who have already some experience in cybersecurity.

Becker has plans of a future career in cybersecurity such as doing something along the lines of what the competition has him doing. So far he has been accepted into Utica College, Pace University and Alfred State College.

“I know the basic problems that could come up when trying to secure the system and make it safer as a whole. Other kids might know it too, but it gives me a head start in knowing what the basics are,” Becker said.

Broadalbin-Perth High School student Ryan Hertik is shown competing in the Air Force Association's CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition on Friday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

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