A team of cyber-sleuths from Hart Middle School took first place recently at the Bay Area Regionals Cyber Competition (BARCC) in San Jose.
One of 10 regional California Mayor's Cyber Cup competitions that simultaneously took place last month, the annual event gives students, including collegiate teams, the chance to test their skills as IT personnel in a real-world setting.
Hart's five-member team CyberYoddha swept the middle school category at the Feb. 23 competition, tackling consultation and Capture the Flag challenges. Middle schools can't compete any higher than regionals at cyber competitions sanctioned by the Bay Area Community College Consortium, according to team coach Mahendra Shelar, so CyberYoddha members must wait until high school to reach state level.
Teams are asked to not only show off their tech know-how but also their professionalism and other soft skills. During the consultation challenge, students are tasked with fixing a mock manufacturing company's network security breach.
"These middle school and high school teams are the consultant and have to come up with a proposal for how to secure the network infrastructure," Shelar said. "As a consultant, they have to study the infrastructure. Some examples are if they have an old operating system, then they should upgrade to the new operating system."
Students had to create invoices detailing the estimated time, labor, equipment and software costs associated with the project. Judges also interviewed them during the competition about their work and invoice, then graded them on their professionalism and overall performance. The Capture the Flag component dealt with obtaining "flags" and using encryption tools to find the web server on the network.
Several weeks before BARCC, CyberYoddha also participated in CyberPatriot, a national youth cyber defense competition put on by the Air Force Association, earning sixth place during the middle school semifinal round.