By Lea Johnson
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A local team of Civil Air Patrol cadets brought the Commander-in-Chief Cup back from the CyberPatriot IV: The National High School Cyber Defense Competition held March 23 in National Harbor, Md.
The six members of the “Wolf Pack,” as the team is known, put in months of training, in addition to their high school coursework and activities, to prepare for three online competitions and then nationals. The team meets on Peterson Air Force Base.
Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Chris Vasquez, team captain, said training consisted of learning the basic operating functions of a Windows system and then a Linux system.
The online competitions, Vasquez said, were to make sure teams knew the basics of these systems.
Nearly 1,000 teams from all service branches and high schools across the country started the competition online. In the end, only 24 went to the national competition: 12 from the all services division and 12 from the high school division.
At the national competition, organizers tested the cadets’ knowledge of cyber security at a new level. “The scenario was a network of 11 computers: five windows, five Linux and a Snorby Intrusion detection system,” Vasquez said.
According to Capt. Bill Blatchley, CAP CyberPatriot coach, the team had to secure the computers and make sure they were configured properly, similar to what they had to do during the online competition.
“They also had to defend those computers against an aggressor red team. There was a group of red team professional aggressors that would actively attack each of the machines. The cadets had to detect that and do what they could to identify the threat, report that they were under attack and do what they could to mitigate that attack,” Blatchley said. “That adds a whole new dimension to what they have to do.”
After the team arrived at nationals, another element was thrown in — none of the teams were allowed to use any custom tools. “A lot of the teams prepared custom tools to use during the competition to configure the computers faster. The judges said there were no custom tools allowed at all and if found we were using them, we could get disqualified,” Vasquez said.
The surprise rule may have made extra work for the Wolf Pack, but their training made up for it. After four hours of competition and another four-hour wait, the team was announced as the winner of the competition.
The CyberPatriot program is important because of the growing significance of cyber security, Blatchley said. “The CyberPatriot program is a program established by the Air Force Association four or five years ago to introduce high school students to computer security with the goal of getting them excited in science, technology, engineering and mathematics pursuits and possibly into computer security,” he said.
Wolf Pack members are: Vasquez, team captain; Cadet 1st Lt. Thomas Jessop; Cadet 2nd Lt. Carlin Idle; Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Kyal Lanum; Cadet Senior Airman Christopher Ottesen; Cadet Airman Basic Stephen Parish; and Flight Officer John Parish.