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.

In the construction trades, it is often said that the strength of a building is in its foundation. In the ‘90s, with the goal of obtaining Microsoft’s Windows NT 3.5 MCSE certification, my first attempt was their 70-058 Network Essentials exam.

Decades later and unknown to most of us, the current version of their Networking Essentials exam (98-366) appears to languish with a publication date of August 2010, serving as a stepping stone towards Microsoft’s MTA certification (1).

As noted on Microsoft’s website, however, “MTA exams do not qualify for MCP certification, nor are they a prerequisite for MCSA or MCSD certification.”(2) Without that connection to a valued Microsoft professional certification (e.g. MCP), Microsoft has in my opinion effectively devalued this foundational certification exam.

In contrast, CompTIA and Cisco both seem focused on improving their fundamentals certification offerings, recognizing these initial certification offerings as a stepping stone for their higher level certifications.

Read the full article here.

The cyber team at Enochs High School took first place in the Central Valley’s California Mayors Cyber Cup competition less than a year after it was formed. The success was the product of hard work by dedicated students and a supportive network of coaches and mentors to help them along the way.

The Enochs team started at the beginning of the school year after junior Luke LeCain attended a cyber camp at Modesto Junior College (MJC) last summer. He was immediately taken by the experience and recruited 10 of his friends to form two cyber teams.

LeCain and his teammates presented the California Mayors Cyber Cup trophy to Modesto Mayor Ted Brandvold at a City Council meeting. They will go on to compete in the California Cyber Innovation Challenge this summer at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

In addition to winning the California Mayors Cyber Cup, the Enochs High School teams also performed well in the CyberPatriot competition. LeCain already has his sights set on bigger goals for next year.

Read the full article here.

Between online learning and interactive digital classrooms, technology is completely shifting how students are being taught and gaining knowledge. Not only does this technology affect students, but also professionals undergoing corporate trainings or looking for ways to upskill, according to a recent Gartner report.

“Institutions looking to thrive in the expanding education ecosystem must leverage technology early on that enables them to become more innovative,” Glenda Morgan, senior research director at Gartner, said in a press release.

The report identified the following 10 strategic technologies predicted to have the biggest impact on higher education this year.

Read the full article here.