High Resolution event photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a074l8qowcun52b/AABGrodvpFXqXRlCzHhzdY2ha?dl=0

Facebook photo album with titles and descriptions: https://www.facebook.com/pg/CyberThonPcola/photos/?tab=album&album_id=568449803359413


January 23, 2017

PENSACOLA – More than 140 local students from dozens of schools across Northwest Florida participated in CyberThon 2017 last weekend, the third annual cybersecurity challenge event hosted by the AFCEA Blue Angels Pensacola Chapter. Following two days of spirited competition, teams from the University of West Florida and Tate High School took first place honors in the college and high school divisions, respectively. After quadrupling in size to 81 students in 2016, CyberThon attendance and impact nearly doubled again in 2017 with 141 total elementary through college students attending. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office led sponsor support for the third consecutive year, with Sheriff David Morgan presenting a check for $25,000 to support the event at Friday’s opening ceremonies.

IMG 5257New for CyberThon 2017 was a “capture the flag” style gameplay carried out on the FacebookCTF platform customized specifically for this event. Teams worked to win points on the game board while completing challenges on a computer network that included a simulated online financial system. Dubbed “First Federation Credit Union,” the fully functional banking environment was designed by Premier Sponsor Navy Federal Credit Union. Teams used software tools including Security Onion and Splunk to monitor suspicious network activity and complete gameplay challenges.

Control of the CyberThon leaderboard changed hands multiple times during the two-day competition, with teams from Pensacola State College, Pine Forest High School, Tate High School, and UWF all taking turns in the top spot. In the end, however, teams from UWF and Tate High School emerged as winners in the college and high school divisions. Penalty points were assessed for teams that chose to request a hint for specific challenges, and the UWF team, led by Dustin Mink, notably requested no hints and received zero scoring penalties. The team from George Stone Technical Center was awarded second place in the college division, while a Tate High School team led by Kevin Schmidt took the top spot among high schools while scoring more points overall before penalties than any team in the event. Tate High swept both top spots among high schools, with a team led by Michelle Ward claiming second place.

Also new to the event this year was a CyberSAFE certification training course for middle school students that participated in 2016 summer cyber camps hosted by AFCEA. After a training course taught by GBSI instructor Johnson Warwick, a group of 17 students successfully earned their Certified CyberSAFE credential from Logical Operations. “This represents an amazing moment for our AFCEA chapter and for CyberThon,” said Randy Ramos, president of the AFCEA Blue Angels Pensacola Chapter. “This event exists to spark enthusiasm in students and to cultivate a future cybersecurity workforce. To successfully train and award a group of young students with an industry recognized certification is a high point in our mission, and why CyberThon was created.” In addition to the CyberSAFE training group, 50 students from Bellview Elementary and Bellview Middle schools toured the CyberThon event on Friday to participate in cyber challenge games and observe opening ceremonies. 

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FF CreditUnion theme graphic


CyberThon 2017 enhancements include:

  • Themed Online Banking Model designed by Navy Federal Credit Union
  • Team Competitive Event
  • Cyber Skill and Education Objectives
  • Training and Certification Opportunities
  • Any Secondary and Post-Secondary Student can participate

CyberThon 2017 will be a competitive event. Thanks to Navy Federal Credit Union, using a Jeopardy-style framework, students earn points by answering questions, finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities and hardening the IT infrastructure of an online banking environment. 

CyberThon is a community event designed to give high school and college students hands-on experience in cyber defense and engagement procedures with instruction from active industry experts. Cybersecurity professionals from DoD cyber operations and training commands in Northwest Florida volunteer to mentor and participate in this cyber education and awareness showcase event, created to grow Pensacola’s IT and Cybersecurity workforce. Cyber experts are needed to fulfill critical security missions, so by partnering as a community and involving students, a cyber-skilled workforce pipeline can be developed for local, high demand careers.

The second annual CyberThon is a 2 ½ day event set for January 20-22, 2017 at the National Flight Academy.  To receive CyberThon email updates with newly released information, be sure to sign up for our AFCEA Pensacola Chapter email newsletter!