Kennesaw State University Hosts Information Security Competition for High Schoolers

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 8, 2021) — All high school students with an interest in information security and a desire to put their skills to the test are invited to participate in Kennesaw State University’s second annual High School Capture the Flag competition.

The no-cost virtual event, which is open to all high school students regardless of location, will see contestants solving a series of security challenges and competing for prizes. Kennesaw State’s Michael J. Coles College of Business Department of Information Systems and Security is organizing the competition. Parents can register their high School students here.

Kennesaw State University High School Capture the Flag Competition

In information security circles, “capture the flag” traditionally refers to technology-based competitions where challengers reverse-engineer an application or break into a secure system to download a file, called the flag. However, the term has evolved to describe a variety of competitions focused on computers and technology.

The High School CTF is a Jeopardy style competition. Working individually, students select challenges of varying point levels from seven categories, ranging from programming and vocabulary to password cracking and cryptography. They then have a time limit to work out the solution, with participants earning more points the faster they finish.

“The goal of this competition is to introduce information security to young people,” said Andy Green, assistant professor of information security and assurance and the competition’s chief organizer. “This event allows us to do it in a fun and challenging way.”

An example challenge might involve providing contestants with encrypted text along with supplemental material they can look through to find clues on how to decrypt it. Each challenge reinforces a key skill that professionals use in the information security industry.

With Cybersecurity Ventures estimating that 3.5 million information security jobs are going unfilled and Glassdoor reporting that the average information security analyst earns $76,000 per year, Green sees outreach efforts like the competition as critically important to the industry’s future.

The daylong virtual CTF competition is open to all high school students around the world. The only requirement is that parents or guardians register on behalf of the student.

Parents can register their children for the CTF at https://bit.ly/2021-ksu-hs-ctf-registration, and both can join the conversation on Discord at https://bit.ly/2021-ksu-hs-ctf-discord.

-Patrick Harbin

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