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How to get started with the CyberStart Moon base

How to get started with the CyberStart Moon base

Assignments, badges & resources to succeed in Moon base!

A simple guide to getting started…

A self-sufficient cyber agent is prepared for a huge range of scenarios because they can build and run their own programs and security applications.

Knowing how to use other peoples tools is an important skill, but what happens when you are faced with a problem that needs a more custom solution?

Under the guidance of Agent J, and by taking on the exciting assignments in the CyberStart Moon base, you’ll learn why and how programming will take your cyber security skills to the next level!

Keep reading to learn about your first Moon base briefing, what you’ll learn, and helpful resources to help you along the way.

What is Moon base?

The CyberStart Moon base is the Cyber Protection Agency’s research facility. It’s the place to come if you want to learn the programming language, Python!

Why Python? It’s a powerful programming language often used to write many security tools.

You’ll start with the basics, like variables and code comments, before progressing to take on challenges that teach you functions and arrays.

Unlike other programming tools, the Moon base focuses on learning these skills with a cyber security focus. Rather than learning loops as programming theory, you learn them as a way to solve a locked file that a human could never guess!

Why is programming important in cyber security?

Learning an in-demand and transferable skill like programming, opens the door to lots of amazing career opportunities. But when thinking about cyber security, there are two key reasons it is SO important.

  1. As a cyber security agent, it is easier to understand why something has happened if you understand how it was built. Understanding the code behind an application will make it easier to spot flaws!
  2. Writing your own scripts and programs allows you to build custom and unique solutions to even the trickiest of problems. Sometimes an existing tool won’t fit the problem you are facing. Having the ability to build your own will make you stand out from others.

Assignments & Rooms

Moon base comprises different levels with varying assignments. You’ll start with a training program before working on the mysterious tasks within the research facility.

CyberStart challenge brief

When you click on an unlocked level, it will bring you to a set of rooms. Each assignment has several rooms, which are different training areas or parts of a challenge that you need to solve.

As you complete the rooms, new levels will unlock!

Once you’ve completed all the rooms in an assignment, the level will be complete. Complete all the rooms in all the levels, and you will have completed Moon base!

Finding the first flag!

To give you a taster of how each room in Moon base works, let’s take a look at room 1 of your first training assignment - Programming 101!

For each assignment, you’ll first receive a brief. Read the brief carefully, follow the instructions, and try to find the hidden flag to complete the room.

CyberStart challenge brief

In your first training assignment, you’ll start by learning some of the most simple areas of Python, such as code comments and using the print function. But you won’t be studying all of this from a textbook!

Learn as you experiment in the CPA MoonCoder - an interactive code editor that allows you to run your code and see the output.

CyberStart challenge brief

Your first assignment will require you to change the code in the editor on the left-hand side and press submit to see it run. The output of your code and the flag needed to complete the room should then appear.

If you need to reread the brief, you can do so by clicking view brief on the left side of the screen.

If you can’t find the answer, you can always click see a hint on the bottom left of the screen. This gives you a helpful clue from Agent J.

When you think you have the answer, it’s time to enter the flag! Type it into the top left side of your screen and click submit code. If it’s incorrect, you will be able to try again. If it’s right, time to celebrate and move on to the next room!

Tips & Tricks

If you have trouble finding a flag in Moon Base, don’t worry! There are plenty of fantastic resources and guides on hand to help you complete each room in the base.

The best place to start is the Field Manual! Within CyberStart, you will gain free access to the Field Manual. The Field Manual is full of write-ups, video demos and interactive quizzes to help you in areas where you’re struggling. You can find the Field Manual at the top left of the screen and under the bases on the base page.

CyberStart challenge brief

The Field Manual has a whole section dedicated to programming, which gives you extra guidance and practical tips for each portion of your Moon base training.

CyberStart challenge brief

You can find all the programming chapters on the left of the screen.

CyberStart challenge brief

Some of the chapters include:

  • Variables
  • Modules
  • Encoding
  • Loops
  • Conditionals

Don’t forget the hints! Agent J is on hand with a helpful hint to send you in the right direction within each challenge!

Another excellent resource is the CyberStart blog. Here you will find posts on a range of cyber security topics.

There are specific programming posts and how to’s on the blog such as ‘top tips to succeed in programming skills’. These will be really helpful to read through when starting out in Moon base and learning new skills.

Learn the skills, earn the badges

Whilst you play Moon base, you’ll gain progress points and badges!

There are many unique Moon base badges to unlock as you complete specific assignments or levels. You can find your badges by clicking view profile on the top right of the screen.

CyberStart challenge brief

See how many badges you can grab as you make your way through Moon base! Why not compete against your friends and show off your badges in the CyberStart Community?

You’re now prepared to become a programming pro. Get started with CyberStart Moon base to learn a variety of new skills and become a confident and well-rounded cyber agent!

All of the programmes below are entirely free, and feature the CyberStart tools that are already loved by thousands of students all over the world!

Cyber Discovery

What is it? A fun, educational game-based programme developed to push your potential and enhance your passion!

Who’s it for? 13-18 year olds in the UK only.

Awesome! How can I find out more?

www.joincyberdiscovery.com

CyberStart America

What is it? A fun, educational game-based programme developed to improve your cyber security skills and reward you with free college scholarships!

Who’s it for? 13-18 year old high school students in the US only.

Awesome! How can I find out more?

www.cyberstartamerica.org