Cyber Patriot - Building a Strong Cybersecurity Ecosystem in San Antonio
What do Paul Johnson, Gina Johnson, Jay Gehringer, Don Allen, Nicky DeBolt and Steve Morrill have in common with Nick Saban? Read to find out.
Jungle Disk is an active participant in the San Antonio community through several different efforts we have highlighted on our website, but two of our efforts are not highlighted there. You may be aware of Cyber Talk Radio that we host to provide a forum for sharing information on the local work being done in the public and private sectors in technology and cybersecurity. The other effort we’re active in is the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Cyber Security Council. In a recent meeting, we talked about our city’s most recent performance at CyberPatriot X. In case you are not familiar, CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program. At the center of CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. The competition puts teams of high school and middle school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. In the rounds of competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services in a six hour period. Teams compete for the top placement within their state and region, and the top teams in the nation earn all-expenses paid trips to Baltimore, MD for the National Finals Competition where they can earn national recognition and scholarship money. The national finals will be held April 15-19, 2018.
Congratulations goes out to all the San Antonio teams that participated in the competition. For the State of Texas Open Division, Alamo Academies placed first and Medina Valley ISD placed third. For the State of Texas All Service Division, San Antonio took the top three places. Alamo Heights Army JROTC Golden Mules took first place. Holmes/Business Careers High School TX 781st took second place. Alamo Heights Army JROTC Lady Mules finished in third place. A special congratulations goes out to the Alamo Heights Golden Mules for being the only San Antonio team (and one of only two in Texas) that will be moving on to the national competition in the All Service division.
It goes without saying how excited we are for the Alamo Heights team but we couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the rest of the San Antonio teams. And to take it a step further, what happened to the rest of the Texas teams? For CyberPatriot X, the State of Texas is not sending one team in the Open Division to compete in the National Competition. In all fairness, most states in our union are not sending a team to the National Competition. In fact, only three states are sending teams to compete in the Open Division - California, Colorado and Maryland. In fact, of the 12 slots in the Open Division, they are all filled by five schools. Yes, that’s right…of the 2,757 teams that competed in CyberPatriot X, the 12 slots are represented by only five schools.
- Del Norte High School (3 teams- Paul Johnson (2) and Gina Johnson (1) - San Diego, CA
- Troy High School (2 teams - Don Allen) - Fullerton, CA
- Highlands Ranch High School (3 teams - Nicky DeBolt) - Highlands Ranch, CO
- Loyola Blakefield (1 team - Steve Morrill) - Towson, Maryland
So what is it about these schools/programs that have such a small group competing at nationals? Is it fluoride in the water? Is it in their DNA? It has to be the coach, right? Is it the same reason the SEC always seem to be national champions at something? Is the same thing happening in this cyber security competition? If so, how do we get the cyber version of Nick Saban? San Antonio has such a strong ecosystem in cybersecurity, surely we have Cyber Saban in our midst. Our challenge for our community is to build coaches and mentors for this middle school and high school program to gain national visibility, but even more importantly, build cyber talent to stay here and fuel our economy in the future.