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Students prep for national cyber security competition

Nathan Min (left) and Veer Chopra (right)

Students prep for national cyber security competition

By Ashley Shah

The Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS) Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) has a branch dedicated to cyber security. This group participates in a national cyber security program with competitions called CyberPatriot.

Senior Nathan Min, commander, and his partner, sophomore Veer Chopra, sergeant of SRHS CyberPatriot, are leading the branch at SRHS AFJROTC.

“The way the competitions work is that students are expected to secure an operating system within a scenario that they are given. We work on three different systems: Linex, Cisco and Windows,” Min said.

To prepare for the competitions, the team has weekly meetings in which they practice scenarios and go over logistics.

“We do practice scenarios and techniques in our meetings. However, most of the work, and practice is done asynchronously. Students are expected to practice on the systems in their own time and become familiar with them,” Chopra said. 

The SRHS AFJROTC unit competes in the All Service division, which is for JROTC programs.

“There is also an open division for schools that do not have JROTC programs, as well as a middle school division,” Min said. 

There are multiple competitions for CyberPatriot that start in October and end in March each season. 

Round 1 happens in October; Round 2 happens in November and State occurs in December.

“For Rounds 1, 2 and State, any team is allowed to compete in those competitions,” Min said. 

At the State competition, the top 30 percent of teams are bracketed into the Platinum Tier. The next 40 percent of teams are sectioned off as the Gold Tier and the final 30 percent of teams are categorized as the Silver Tier. 

“After the teams are sectioned off into their tiers, they compete within their tiers to advance to semifinals,” Chopra said. 

The top 25 percent of each tier advances to semifinals. 

“The competitors in the Platinum Tier are the only ones that can make it to nationals,” Chopra said. 

Only 12 teams make it to nationals from semifinals. 

“Last year, we won first in our division for nationals. We have been a high achieving team for years, and it was a big accomplishment for us,” Min said 

This year, the team consists of about 15 members. 

“We have five people for novice, five for junior varsity and five for varsity. Each team has one person that specializes in Linux, one for Windows and one for Cisco. There are also two back-up members on each team,” Chopra said. 

Chopra and Min hope that this year’s team is as successful as SRHS teams have been in past years.

“We are hoping to win at nationals again this year,” Min said. 

Alongside doing well at competitions, Min and Chopra are hoping to spread more information about cyber security to the public. 

“I think in this day-and-age, with technology being so widespread, it is really important to know how to keep your information secure. This competition helps us learn, but also we want to help more people,” Min said.