Tate High and UWF win CyberThon challenge

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.

New 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. Security Onion and Splunk were among the software tools teams used 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 with 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 entire event. Tate High swept both top spots among high schools, with a team led by Michelle Ward claiming second place.