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Young students compete in cybersecurity competition at UW

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Students in grades seven to twelve from Canada’s top teams competed in the Information and Communications Technology Council’s (ICTCs) sixth annual CyberTitan competition.

This year, the competition was held at the the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute at the University of Waterloo (UW) on Monday.

CyberTitan is known as one of Canada’s largest cyber defence competitions and it aims to build the future of the cybersecurity workforce.

The students competing were from ten high schools and three middle schools across the country. To win the competition, participants must find cybersecurity vulnerabilities and fix them.

“There could be certain firewall rules that are not set up. Some ports could be closed that should be opened. There could be some malicious software on it,” said Michael Danishevsky, a coach from Étienne Brûlé Junior School in Toronto.

“You have to fight your way through these full day marathon competitions. It’s intense,” said Tim King, an education coordinator with ICTC.

King is also a teacher from Fergus. He said while no local teams made it to the finals, the Fergus team are five-time national finalists.

“I’ve had students going to the navy. I’ve had students going to post-secondary. I have one student in Germany right now working in cyber,” King said.

King hopes CyberTitan inspires more students to get into careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

“We’re desperately short of people in Canada. One in six jobs goes unfilled in the field because we just don’t have the talent here,” said King.

Being at the University of Waterloo for the event was another bit of inspiration for some students.

“A lot of us want to get into computer science in this very university,” said Grade 12 student Bernie Chen, from William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in Toronto.

Some students said their brains are already in overdrive planning for their future careers.

“Something related to computers maybe computer hardware, or low level programming. Because I tend to really enjoy that,” said James Huynh, a Grade 11 student at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute.

Organizers believe more education in cyber forensics could lead to fewer cyber breaches and said that starting with the younger generation is the best route to success.

  

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