More than 300 local students from dozens of schools across Northwest Florida participated in Cyberthon 2018 this past weekend, the fourth annual cybersecurity awareness and gaming challenge event hosted by the AFCEA Blue Angels Pensacola Chapter.
Following two days of cyber security training held at Gulf Power Co.’s Douglas L. McCrary Training Center, teams from the University of West Florida and Pine Forest High School took first place honors in the college and high school divisions, respectively.
After doubling in size to 141 students in 2017, Cyberthon attendance and impact doubled again in 2018 with 327 total elementary through college students attending. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office again led sponsor support for the fourth year, with a check for $25,000 to support the event.
The Cyberthon 2018 spirited competition was a Capture the Flag (CTF) style gameplay carried out on the Facebook CTF platform and customized specifically for this year’s theme, focusing on the power and energy sector, sponsored by the Gulf Power Company.
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 with the top spot. In the end, however, teams from UWF and Pine Forest High School emerged as winners in the college and high school divisions.
New to the Cyberthon event this year was Cyber Saturday. Cybersecurity awareness, education and demonstration events were open to the public with activities for all ages. Events included firewall training by Gulf Power, Internet of Things (IoT) risk awareness by the Navy, a Hunt and Attack demonstration by DHS, Crypto Kids Cyber Safety Training from GBSI and a junior CTF gameboard conducted by Cyber Safe Workforce.
“This is another defining moment for our Cyber Coast community, the 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. We’re successfully generating curiosity at the elementary school level, preparing students for the career academies at the middle school level and mentoring students to earn industry certifications, prepare for careers and earn college credits in the high school career academies.”
Cybersecurity continues to be a rapidly growing industry with strong demand for skilled technical workers, and Escambia County offers a wealth of training and career opportunities for interested students. Pensacola is also home to many of the leading tech firms in the region. As the leading organization for increasing technology information in the defense, homeland security and intelligence communities, AFCEA and the local Blue Angels Pensacola chapter are thrilled to be hosting Cyberthon.
Cyberthon 2018 participants included students representing:
Bellview Elementary School
Bellview Middle School
Blue Angels Elementary School
Crestview High School
George Stone Technical Center
Gulf Breeze High School
Longleaf Elementary School
Montclair Elementary School
Niceville High School
Pensacola State College
Pine Forest High School
Tate High School
University of West Florida
FloridaWest partnered with AFCEA, Gulf Power and all the sponsors to make this year’s Cyberthon possible.