It’s impossible to miss the energy and passion that Brent Wedge brings to cybersecurity education. Over the past two years, he’s built a program from scratch and created a network of teachers and coaches who are ready to take the program to the next level. 

Wedge is the coordinator of the cybersecurity program at Modesto Junior College but spent the bulk of his career as a systems analyst at the Stanislaus Union School District. This experience proved to be essential for understanding the K-12 landscape in the Modesto area and where cybersecurity might fit into it.  

With support from Modesto Junior College administration and the California Community College Information Communication Technologies and Digital Media sector, Wedge and faculty colleague John Zamora started a CyberPatriot team at Enochs High School. 

Unlike the Bay Area or other parts of the state, technology is not always top of mind for everyone in the Central Valley. Wedge used his experience in the school district to make a case for cybersecurity. 

“I want students to arrive at MJC already having done cyber in their high school and already be familiar with it,” he said. “We initiated a dialogue with administrators at Modesto City Schools and then went to the schools to help them get started.” 

After launching a successful CyberPatriot team, Wedge held the Central Valley’s first cyber camp over the summer and created an advisory board to build industry connections.  

Wedge looked to Irvin Lemus, CIS department chair at Cabrillo College, and an integral part of Bay Area cyber education, as a mentor and role model for how to successfully implement cyber programs across K-12 and community colleges. 

“It is always a pleasure to work with Brent; his passion and excitement to bring cybersecurity to his community are enormous,” Lemus said. “I know his efforts embody a cyber hero as his community will benefit from his efforts.” 

He also received guidance from Tobi West, the CIS department chair at Coastline College. West immediately recognized his dedication to cybersecurity education and the potential for him to do great things in the Central Valley. 

“Brent has been working diligently on building their cybersecurity program in preparation for the Center of Academic Excellence application,” West said. “This effort demonstrates Brent’s commitment to making cybersecurity education available for the community and helping to develop the future cybersecurity workforce.” 

Luke LeCain, a senior at Enochs High School, was part of Wedge’s first CyberPatriot team, which won the California Mayors Cyber Cup at Fresno City College last year. LeCain attended Modesto Junior College’s first cyber camp last summer and is now taking community college courses in high school. 

“Luke is a natural-born leader who is out promoting cyber competitions,” Wedge said. “He was a great student, but he needed a pathway. Once we defined that pathway, he ran after it.”  

Under Wedge’s direction, LeCain looks forward to achieving even greater success this year. 

CyberPatriot gave me a way to learn new skills, develop skills I already had and see how I stack up against the rest of the U.S.,” LeCain said. “This year, I would like both of my teams to compete at the platinum level, and at least one of my teams go to regionals.” 

Moving forward, Wedge hopes to expand on the momentum he built by strengthening connections to industry through his advisory board, and to four-year colleges like Cal Poly Pomona and CSU Sacramento. 

Students need to go even further than our college. We are part of the journey but not the final destination.” Wedge said. “I want to give them a boost of encouragement and be prepared for university transfer.” 

As cybersecurity education has grown in California, a new generation of cyber heroes is emerging from the pathways, competitions, and coaching that happens every day across the state. Brandon Nguyen is undoubtedly part of that group and has already had an impact on his school and his community.

Nguyen recently graduated from Oxford Academy in Cypress. While he was in school, he completed 24 college credits through Cypress College, earned three certificates and obtained six industry certifications — all before officially graduating.

He was also an active member of the school’s cyber competitions team and now works as a mentor to younger students.

Nguyen said he did not enter high school intending to be so involved in cybersecurity, but things gradually built on one another as he became more involved.

“One of my friends did CyberPatriot and said I was pretty good and should join their team, which was the only team at the school,” Nguyen said. “Then a professor asked me to start taking college classes over the summer. I followed along the pathway and, over time, I just kept taking more classes.”

That professor, Ben Izadi of Cypress College, said Nguyen was one of the top students he’s had and someone who was not afraid of taking chances and pursuing new challenges.

“He has set goals and is committed and focused on achieving those goals. I found Brandon to be a responsible and dedicated student who goes above and beyond the ‘call of duty’ to complete tasks in a timely manner,” Izadi said. “He can process information intellectually by applying problem-solving knowledge to new situations.”

Izadi calls Nguyen the “symbol of success” for Cypress College’s PACE (Pathway to Advancement of Cybersecurity Education) program aimed at developing cybersecurity pathways from middle school to four-year college.

Izadi invited Nguyen to present at the WASTC Winter ICT Educators’ Conference earlier this year. He was also recognized at the CompTIA Partners Summit in Las Vegas over the summer for his success in completing professional certifications while in high school.

Not only does Nguyen have a grasp on the technical skills needed to be successful in cybersecurity, he’s also developed the interpersonal skills that are essential for a good cyber coach. Nguyen mentors high school students as part of the Sunburst Youth Academy National

Guard Youth Challenge Program, which connects at-risk high school students with cybersecurity education.

“Cybersecurity builds critical thinking skills. I’ve learned that it’s not just computers that can get compromised; sometimes the weakest thing is humans,” Nguyen said. “You need to know how to train people to make sure hackers don’t call them and force them to do things like give them their passwords. That mindset is important.”

It’s one thing to practice cybersecurity in the classroom or a competition setting, but it’s something else entirely to do it in a real-world setting — especially in another country.

Four California high school students had the opportunity to do just that this summer when they participated in the Future Cybersecurity Leaders Exchange, funded by the U.S. Embassy in London. A total of 20 students participated in the program, 10 from the U.S. and 10 from the UK.

Students saw sights like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, but they also shadowed cybersecurity professionals from the public and private sectors, which broadened their horizons about potential career paths.

“The experience impacted the way I view cybersecurity significantly,” said Sky Jung, a junior at Troy High School. “We were exposed to a diverse range of careers in the cybersecurity field that I wasn’t aware of prior to the exchange program.”

The program included a 14-day cybersecurity camp in the UK, followed by professional site visits in Washington, D.C. and southern California. Students participated in a cultural exchange aimed at creating global networks among future cybersecurity leaders.

“Almost everyone has been staying in contact since the program ended,” Jung said. “After spending pretty much every day together for almost a month, it was so hard to say goodbye to my exchange friends, but the fact that we’ve all still been able to stay in touch just shows that it’s possible to make lasting connections.”

The trip included a visit to Google’s headquarters in London, which stood out for Bowen Liu, a senior at North Hollywood High School.

“I remember the tour guide taking us out to the balcony with patio swings, wooden logs for chairs, and this amazing view of London facing the Thames River. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted this kind of workspace from a company,” Liu said.

Participants also had the opportunity to see how regulations differ between the U.S. and the UK and make connections with companies like Cisco and Northrop Grumman.

“From what I picked up, cybersecurity in the UK is much, much more regulated,” said Nathan Melwani, a senior at Fullerton High School.

Phoenix Dimagiba, a senior at Del Norte High School, noted a difference in how cyber apprenticeships are viewed in each country.

“It was fascinating to learn about the types of cybersecurity opportunities available in the UK,” he said. “It seems like their cybersecurity education and apprenticeships are much more developed than they are here in the U.S.”

Students also learned about the ever-increasing role that cybersecurity plays in geopolitical conflicts.

“Coming into the exchange, my entire perspective was blown open, especially when they revealed the amount of geopolitical tensions that involve cybersecurity” Liu said. “I realized that my thoughts on cybersecurity were constrained by where I live.”

As Melwani prepares for college, the exchange program crystalized that cybersecurity is the pathway he wants to follow.

“Cybersecurity went from being merely just a competition for me to a possible major or minor in college,” he said. I learned that the world of cybersecurity is very diverse, as there are so many intricate methods that someone could utilize to take control of a network.”

The program also helped Dimagiba solidify his view of cybersecurity as he prepares for college and the start of his career.

“The visits to U.S. and UK government agencies and corporations served as reminders that the end goal of cybersecurity is protecting others,” Dimagiba said. “Cybersecurity professionals can ensure national security, maintain the integrity of consumer data, or both.”

The Future Cybersecurity Leaders Exchange was facilitated In the U.S. by PH International and in the UK by the UK Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and QA, ltd. For more information, visit https://www.ph-int.org/us/program/239/.

If you ask anyone in California’s cybersecurity education community who has made an impact on students and the industry as a whole, “Coach Paul” is likely to be one of the first answers.  

Not only does Paul Johnson coach some of the best cyber teams in the world, but he is also a tireless advocate for the positive impact cybersecurity education can have on students from all walks of life. He’s seen his students embrace cyber as a pathway to high-paying, intellectually-rewarding jobs that are helping to keep the world safe from cyber threats. 

Johnson was recently named CyberPatriot XI Mentor of the Year and has built the CyberAegis juggernaut in just five years. His teams consistently take home top honors CyberPatriot, the California Mayors Cyber Cup, and other cyber competitions at both the middle and high school levels. 

“We live in an amazing age now where you can sit down at a computer, and with no experience, an hour later you can have your own Android app that you programmed running on your smartphone,” Johnson said. “Working with very sharp, high-achieving, competitive students and successfully competing at the national level is extremely gratifying.” 

By day, Johnson is a Senior Staff Cyber Systems Engineer at Northrop Grumman in San Diego. The Northrop Grumman Foundation is the presenting sponsor of CyberPatriotJohnson’s son was interested in cybersecurity, so he decided to jump in. 

His first information session at Del Norte High School had three students, but the program quickly grew to more than 100 students in a student-led team structure known as CyberAegis. Students serve as mentors to each other, which allows them to grow as leaders and learn soft skills to complement what they are learning about technology. 

As the program grew, Johnson saw an opportunity to expand beyond the confines of one school or school district to build something with an even greater reach. 

“I formed a non-profit corporation, CyberAegis Team, Inc. to more easily procure equipment such as servers and networking equipment to provide students hands-on experience,” Johnson said. “Our website was entirely designed and implemented by my students.” 

Johnson also places a focus on bringing women into cybersecurity. About 40 percent of the CyberAegis teams are women, which is higher than the overall competition makeup. An all-female team from Oak Valley Middle School competed in the CyberPatriot XI National Finals earlier this year.  

In addition, seven CyberAegis members received the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing Award last year. Johnson encourages women to lead recruitment events and speak publicly about their success in cybersecurity to help increase diversity in the field. 

“Females are given fewer opportunities than their male colleagues,” said CyberAegis team member Lilly Hu. “If more young women become involved with IT and cybersecurity, we can change such stereotypes. Having more women would encourage support for one another.” 

The model of professionalism Johnson fosters pays off in the form of internships and full-time jobs. 

 “My students are routinely sought out by companies such as Northrop Grumman for internships as they’ve found that my students can immediately start making significant contributions on day one,” Johnson said. 

Beyond professional success, CyberAegis students also praise Johnson’s supportive personalityIn fact, the father of one CyberAegis team member commuted from San Diego to Atlanta after his job was transferred just so the student could continue being part of the team. 

“Coach Paul has been a tireless advocate for his teams and is a model coach in the state on how to manage and nurture multiple teams allowing them to advance and flourish,” said Scott Young, president of SynED, which hosts the California Cyber Guild.  

For more information about Johnson and CyberAegis, visit cyberaegis.tech/. 

Cyber-Guild, a synEDTM, program deepens community engagement

 

Thousand Oaks, CA – 30 July 2019 – To promote cyber security skills, knowledge, and engagement of entire communities Cyber-Guild, a pillar program of synED, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is excited to announce the Golden Ticket prize for high school cyber teams.

Ten winning cyber teams will receive an all-expense paid trip to the NASA U.S. Cyber Camp in August of 2020! Teams must meet or exceed a base criteria to qualify as one of the 10 selected teams. Teams will be flown from the nearest major airport (i.e., SFO, LAX, SAN), to spend a week with Astronauts, FBI agents, and elite representatives from across the U.S. that focus on cyber in their careers. Team members must be between the ages of 15-18 years old and be U.S. citizens. The teams will experience hands-on learning, some programming, forensics, and much more.

With nine months to accomplish the rigorous requirements, teams will be challenged at every step of the process, as they try to earn their right to claim a Golden Ticket. This will take focus, dedication and perseverance by every team trying to claim a ticket to the U.S. Cyber Camp.

“Space is the next cyber frontier. Our digital society’s reliance on space-based assets and capabilities is an Achilles heel not only for our military security, but also our economic security,” said synED Board member, Sheila Zuehlke, Major General (Ret), USAF. “The cyber threats are very real, and we must train our youth early with critical thinking exercises and hone their cyber skills to outmaneuver bad cyber actors who threaten our way of life.”

Cyber-Guild Director, Liz Fraumann shared, “We could not be more thrilled to offer the Golden Ticket opportunity to our high school students. The campaign and associated projects we have designed for the teams will stretch them in new ways. They will hone their skills, engage across their communities, and learn valuable lessons about cybersecurity and how it is truly a shared responsibility for all of us. The opportunities are endless with a great prize for their effort.”

 The teams’ projects require communities to engage as well. Businesses and organizations should welcome the expertise the students can offer when it comes to the leading cyber hygiene practices and sharing them with their staff. It is a win-win proposition for everyone. Teams have from now to April 15, 2020 to complete all of the projects to be considered for a Golden Ticket. Organizations or individuals wishing to invest are welcome to make a donation at: cyber-guild.org/donate.

As teams progress through their accomplishments they will be awarded digital badges that identify how their gained skills map to the NICE framework work roles. These digital credentials will be important to the students for future job and education applications, regardless of their success in claiming a Golden Ticket.

ABOUT NASA U.S. Cyber Camp

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s newest STEM camp, U.S. Cyber Camp, allows trainees to delve into the world of cyber technologies through blended hands-on experiences and challenges. Trainees learn the ethics and responsibilities of personal data security for safeguarding professional networks and the challenge of an expanding internet of things. This program balances individual instruction with team building.

ABOUT synED

SynED is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting educational excellence by promoting synergies between traditional, non-traditional and experiential learning to realize the best possible outcomes for students, faculty, business and society. For more information, visit synED.org

ABOUT the Cyber-Guild Program

Cyber-GuildTMis the leading integrated community engagement program of synED focused on raising cybersecurity awareness and learning across the United States of America, and globally at all levels. For more information, visit cyber-guild.org

What started as a need to fulfill a STEM requirement has grown into one of California’s signature cybersecurity education programs, thanks in part to Carey Peck’s hard work and dedication to the program and its students.

Peck is a consultant to Dr. Sandra Cano, who manages the CyberPatriot program at Beyond the Bell, a program in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that offers educational programming before and after school at more than 1,000 locations throughout the district.

The district was looking for a way to meet its STEM requirement in a scalable way. CyberPatriot was suggested to the late Harry Talbot, who founded the district’s program and was looking for help running it. Under Talbot’s leadership, LAUSD earned two CyberPatriot National Championships and became the first Center of Excellence and the first to register 100 CyberPatriot teams.

Aside from the ability to scale, Peck said CyberPatriot fits with Beyond the Bell’s mission of career-oriented education for students from underserved communities throughout Los Angeles. The program has captured the attention of vendors such as Northrop Grumman and SpaceX.

“Bringing students into the fold and getting then career ready is a key element of the program,” Peck said. “We have a natural strength as a large system, and a tech program such as this is naturally interesting to our vendors. Cisco and Microsoft have been strong sponsors.”

With a program as large as Beyond the Bell, it’s easy to get bogged down in administrative details and making sure everything runs smoothly. Peck said he draws inspiration from the countless success stories he’s witnessed over the past decade.

Students who barely had any access to a computer thrived in the program and found that cybersecurity gave their lives meaning and direction they would not have had otherwise.

“This program has lifted up young men and women who had never lifted their eyes and vision to see a broader world and those are the stories that inspire me along the way,” Peck said. “A young man who was in trouble with the police and who now doing advanced graduate work at Cal Tech in AI; a young woman who had never left the City of Los Angeles who did so the first time on the plane that took her to Washington DC for the CyberPatriot finals.”

CyberPatriot was almost immediately accepted across LAUSD and has served as a team-building tool that teaches soft skills in addition to technical expertise.

“I have always been interested in, team building and motivation, and a major focus of ours is how to sustain the success we have had in our program, which has found tremendous student acceptance.

Liz Fraumann, director of the California Cyberhub, described Peck as the “quiet strength” behind LAUSD’s cyber success.

“Having known Carey for years, you can just feel the passion he has for the kids and what he does. California would do well to clone Carey and have someone like him in all communities to help guide and shape the students for the future that is within their grasp,” Fraumann said. “Anyone who really knows Carey is happy to count him as a friend and colleague.”

Not only has Peck seen students’ lives transformed over the past decade, but he’s also seen the cybersecurity field itself grow and evolve. The number of CyberPatriot teams has increased dramatically, and today’s teams are working on projects that the first cohorts would not have been able to imagine.

“In CyberPatriot III, students had to deal with only one image until the semi-finals, and that additional image was a Linux,” he said. “Now, round 1 has two images and they are more difficult by an order of magnitude, and there are Cisco packet tracer exercises also thrown in.

Peck said the future of cybersecurity education will only get brighter from here.

“We are at the very start of this enormous trend,” Peck said. “To put online and safely maintain the universal connectivity our new society requires will demand more and more thinking and professional management. All that will be reflected in the training we do, and in the future plans of our graduates.”

 

California Cyberhub moves under Cyber-Guild™ Umbrella

 

Thousand Oaks, CA – 15 July 2019 – In line with requests from both other states across the nation and international audiences, synED, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization is pleased to announce the reorganization of their pillar program for Cybersecurity Awareness. California Cyberhub will become a component of a parent program named Cyber-Guild™ to better serve national and international opportunities.

“We were experiencing rapidly increasing interest, from across the US and internationally, with communities wishing to adopt the highly successful model developed in California.” said Executive Director/Chairman of the Board, Scott Young. “The model for community engagement cyber awareness and education is proving to be highly desirable therefore, we needed to establish a parent structure with a universally appealing name.  We also found that other organizations had trademark rights to the Cyberhub name. To address the numerous requests and expand across the nation and around the globe our program is now known as Cyber-Guild.”

Cyber-Guild Director, Liz Fraumann shared, “We will hold the high standards set by the California Cyberhub program and continue to support Californian’s under that name. Cyber-Guild will look to bring new initiatives, projects and activities for everyone under the Cyber-Guild umbrella. We will continue to focus on the K-12 youth, but we look forward to increasing our engagements to include higher education, business and all community members with high value initiatives.”

 Organizations and representatives from other states or nations around the globe interested in utilizing the Cyber-Guild program should visit the website: cyber-guild.organd share what they are most interested in achieving. A Cyber-Guild Alliance is being formed to enable sharing of the leading practices and ideas to facilitate collaboration for cyber education for K-12, cyber competitions, and other activities to help build a cyber-ready workforce. These resources will be available for all Alliance participants.

Additional programs synED offers that maybe of interest to organizations, include the Digital Badge Design program, Rapid Customer Centric Design and services such as Environmental Scans and Needs Analysis from our research and reportOUT group.

 

 ABOUT synED

SynED is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting educational excellence by promoting synergies between traditional, non-traditional and experiential learning to realize the best possible outcomes for students, faculty, business and society.

For more information, visit synED.org

 

ABOUT the Cyber-Guild Program

Cyber-GuildTMis the leading integrated community engagement program of synED focused on raising cybersecurity awareness and learning across the United States of America, and globally at all levels.

Over the past three years, Ed Garcia has learned right along with his students at Moorpark College when it comes to cybersecurity. Like a lot of IT professionals, he didn’t spend much time thinking about cyber threats until talk of hacking and cybercrime picked up in the media.

Garcia used his drive and connections to quickly launch both an associate degree in cybersecurity and a cyber club at Moorpark College. Both are off to a strong start and poised to continue growing.

“Three years ago, I sensed that cybersecurity was an area that needed more attention,” Garcia said. “I started building courses in the community college system, which is a very long process, so I wanted to get started right away.”

Garcia joined the Computer Network Systems Engineering (CNSE) department at Moorpark College in 2001. Before becoming an instructor, he spent 20 years at Southern California Edison, where he did everything from programming to networking. He also discovered his passion for teaching while working with at-risk students through a company outreach program.

In 2017, he was named a Ventura County Innovates Pathfinder by the Ventura County Office of Education. The ward celebrates talented leaders in education, business and community service who have made significant contributions in building pathways to employment for Ventura County students.

Garcia has never formally worked in cybersecurity, so he looked CompTIA and other industry resources, as well as models in place at other community colleges throughout California. Moorpark College now has the only cybersecurity degree in Ventura County, complete with a state-of-the-art classroom.

Last fall, the college also launched a cyber club to give students even more hands-on experience to complement what they are learning in the classroom. The club helped Garcia host the California Mayors Cyber Cup at Moorpark College and will begin entering its own cyber competitions in the upcoming school year. Read more

In alignment with the recent Executive Order by President Donald Trump, synED and the California Cyberhub team stand ready to help communities across California and beyond, cultivate cyber security awareness and a lifetime of learning. Be Part of the Solution.

Read the Executive Order on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce here.

Small business’ often believe they are not part of the cyber threatscape. However, a leading practice that can assist is to practice good cyber hygiene and ensure you do simple things like remembering to change the password on your routers. Additional items to help keep the small business community safer can be found here.


Our honeypots frequently detect scans targeting various home automation protocol endpoints. Many of these attacks aim to exploit vulnerable consumer routers. Upon further investigation, we’ve discovered a persistent flaw affecting Linksys Smart Wi-Fi routers that allows unauthenticated remote access to sensitive information.

Read the full article here.