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North Dakota students receive national awards, compete in online cybersecurity competition

State News

In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, photo a woman types on a keyboard in New York. Cybersecurity researchers say a coordinated cyberespionage campaign has targeted U.N. relief agencies, the International Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations groups for the past 10 months. The California cybersecurity outfit Lookout says the campaign, which uses phishing to harvest passwords from mobile phones and computers, is still active. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Ten North Dakota students received national recognition by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) as well as Valley City State University student, Shane Hitch who was a top five finisher in a Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition hosted by the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC).

Ten high school girls from four schools were recognized by NCWIT.

Five girls won NCWIT’s Aspirations in Computing Award along with two runners-up and three girls received Rising Star Awards. Recipients are from Cavalier, Century, Fairmount and Williston High Schools.

The Aspirations in Computing award is given annually to students who are selected based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing as demonstrated by their computing experience, related activities, leadership experience, tenacity in the face of barriers and post-secondary education plans.

“North Dakota’s students and educators are rising to the challenge of a new e-learning environment during the current pandemic, and these awards emphasize the importance of technology skills now more than ever,” said Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley. “Whether students are participating in a traditional classroom or virtually, we want to encourage every student in every school to become cyber educated and embrace the limitless opportunity of technology in any career.”

The CTF competition was held over four days in March, with 303 registered users from across the nation and globally competing for points in the virtual cybersecurity game. Five North Dakota students participated including Hitch who was also a SANS scholarship recipient in 2019.

Chuck Gardner, NICERC’s Director of Curriculum, said, “Now, more than ever, students need to know how to operate safely online. The current COVID-19 environment is presenting threat actors with opportunities to capitalize on our fears. Capture the Flag competitions give students hands-on opportunities to learn how to prevent malicious events at home, in school or at work.”

A Cybersecurity Education and Diversity Summit slated for April 20 with Gov. Doug Burgum, Palo Alto Networks, Girl Scouts of the USA and NICERC has been postponed.

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