This is a guest post written by Ryan from New Jersey. He earned a silver award from CyberStart America (CSA) and a scholarship from the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation (NCSF).
Codebreaking, getting access to databases, cracking passwords… these felt like scenes in a movie to me at the start of the school year. Little did I know, a few months from then I would be the one doing them.
Ryan shares his story of becoming the top CyberStart America scorer in his school in his first year of participating in the programme.
How did you get started with CyberStart?
It was the end of the fall term when my computer science teacher Mr Luo introduced me to CyberStart America, a free online program for all high school students in America.
The contest consisted of many little “games” where you solve challenges and get “flags” by cracking a code or getting access to logins. The fun and engaging problems intrigued me as I started solving one after the other.
“This is my first year of playing CyberStart and I found it very fun and engaging. I learned a lot about cybersecurity and I am determined to learn more about it”.
What did you learn in CyberStart?
I learned simple concepts such as looking into the source code of websites to using advanced techniques such as Command Line Injection and Buffer Overflow to solve problems.
However, unlike math equations, all of these problems did not have a clear direction to solve them. Often I had to explore new ways to tackle challenges and many times they fail, but it makes it all the more rewarding when you finally get it right.
CyberStart is not an individual effort either. I received support from many of my friends who also joined the contest as well as Rohan Nunugonda, the leader of the Peddie Cybersecurity club.
Read Rohan’s spotlight here.
Eventually, I fully completed two out of the four bases and was ranked number one in our school. That was when I received a silver badge and an email to apply for the National Cyber Scholarship for prizes.
“Before the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation (NCSF), I had no idea about cybersecurity and I was not considering a career in it. After NCSF, I found a passion in cybersecurity and want to study cybersecurity in college”.
Regardless of the results, CyberStart was an unforgettable experience as it ignited a passion for cybersecurity in me. I developed a deep understanding of how others might try to threaten our cybersecurity and how to protect our internet presence in this age of technology.
I look forward to competing in CyberStart again next year and improving upon this year’s success!
Play FREE cyber security challenges in Intern base by registering for your CyberStart account, or sign up to CyberStart America to access all CyberStart content and be in with the chance of winning scholarships like Ryan!