Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CyberPatriot Launches Middle School Program in Los Angeles

AFA’s CyberPatriot program – The National High School Cyber Defense Competition – completed the lead pilot for its upcoming Middle School Program last week at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders from six middle schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) got the opportunity to learn about cyber safety, basic cybersecurity, and system administration in advance of the full Middle School Program rollout in 2014.

The all-day event began with remarks from representatives of LAUSD - one of four CyberPatriot Centers of Excellence (COE) – and Cal. Poly, Pomona, as well as Gen. Bernie Skoch, Commissioner, CyberPatriot. The students then dove into the first module of the program, as members of the CyberPatriot Program Office taught them how to stay safe online and identify malicious scams. The presentation was interspersed with activities in which teams of students identified phishing email attempts and constructed secure social media pages.

The morning finished out with a second module on basic cybersecurity tips. Topics ranged from cyber hygiene – simple things like locking computers and keeping passwords secret – to a primer on malware to instruction on how to build a strong password. This portion of the presentation also contained an interactive element, as teams were tasked with examining mock workstations for potential vulnerabilities and offering solutions to those problems.

The students then ate a quick, well-deserved lunch while watching an LAUSD-created video about the COE’s past CyberPatriot success. With full stomachs, the students jumped into the most exciting part of the day – an introduction to Windows system administration. The techniques they learned were many of the same ones used in the CyberPatriot High School Competition. In fact, the LAUSD middle school students got the chance to see what CyberPatriot competition is like by fixing vulnerabilities in a brief Windows 7 competition image of their own.

All of the students performed remarkably well during this competition, with top honors and prizes going to a team of five from Pio Pico Middle School. Second and third place went to students from Maclay and Mann Middle Schools respectively.

Overall, the lead pilot for the CyberPatriot Middle School Program was a great success. CyberPatriot plans to extend the pilot program to other CyberPatriot Centers of Excellence this fall, with a full rollout across the country in 2014. For more information, contact the CyberPatriot Program Office at 703-247-5806 or by email at

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