Competition prepares next generation of cyber leaders

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 7:08 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - TechNet continues in Augusta with the annual Capture the Flag event.

The competition features over 70 teams with experts and students from 12 countries.

This game could help groom our next generation of leaders protecting all of us from cyber-attacks.

Capture the Flag is similar to flag football. Offense and defense. Instead of being on a football field, you are competing on a computer screen.

“The idea is that we try to get through every challenge in order to win,” said Justin McQueen, Technical College Cyber Training Battalion.

Team players like McQueen are using their savvy cyber skills to play a game with real-life implications.

“So you may have to break cryptography. You have to look at network traffic going through databases,” he said.

McQueen looking for virtual flags hidden in websites, and even though he’s good at finding them, there’s still pressure.

“I feel if I’m not getting something or spending too much time on it, I feel like I’m letting the team down,” he said.

Tom Barnes says Capture the Flag is a safe place where people can practice and sharpen their skills.

VP for Capture Development for Parsons, Barnes said: “Doing it here, at the CTF competition, gives them that sandbox to do that. They can do whatever they want in here, attack anyone’s systems, solve the challenges, but it’s not going to affect anything in the broader internet.”

Some of those categories include Microsoft programs, networking, and security.

“All of those things that go into what a cyber security professional needs to know to secure a network, and if needed to exploit another network,” said Barnes.

Barnes also says the skills they use in Capture the Flag can be used to benefit the outside world.

“Many of the things we do here are to secure much of the critical infrastructure that we use every day,” he said.

McQueen said: “Don’t be afraid of the challenge. You learn as much from your failures as you do your successes.”

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