Celebrating Cyber ​​Security Month with some legal hacking

Celebrating Cyber ​​Security Month with some legal hacking

Sharyland North Junior High School eighth grader Andrew Loya, participated in a Capture the Flag cybersecurity contest during STC’s first Cybersecurity Hackathon event to celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month. STC image
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Texas Border Business

By Amanda Sotelo

It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month and South Texas College celebrated with its first Cybersecurity Hackathon Event.

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More than 400 middle school, high school and STC students recently gathered at the college to learn about the field of cybersecurity and its career opportunities from STC faculty and to tour STC’s campus and Cybersecurity classrooms and labs.

Head of the STC Cybersecurity Program, Francisco Salinas, said the event, a collaboration between the STC Cybersecurity Department, STC’s Dual Credit Program and the Region One Education Service Center, was focused on raising awareness and exposing students at an early age to what cyber security entails.

“There are so many opportunities, education and career, that make up this field,” he said. “It’s a rewarding career that more people need to learn about. Cybersecurity professionals are in high demand, and these students are our future. They’re going to fill those jobs one day.”

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Students in attendance also heard from STC’s Chief Information Security Officer Luis Gonzalez, who served as keynote speaker, including industry partner representatives from Netsync and Outpost 24, who conducted Fortinet Security Firewall and Threat Intelligence and Wireless Security demonstrations, respectively, and heard from cybersecurity exhibitors such as Zoho, a local STC employee partner, the City of McAllen and the City of Pharr.

In addition, nearly 40 students participated in a Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition, an exercise in which “flags” are hidden in programs or websites and competitors steal flags from each other or game organizers.

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The Capture the Flag competition was in collaboration with STC’s industry partner EC-Council, The International Council of E-Commerce Consultants which certifies individuals in various skills in e-business and information security.

In addition to flags and bragging rights, a grant from the EC-Council for an online cyber security course through the organization was up for grabs. The course leads to an industry certification.

One of the students who participated in the college’s cybersecurity event and competition was Kiersen Cain, an eighth grader at Sharyland North Junior High School.

Cain said her interest in cybersecurity, information technology and computers in general stems from her uncle, who has worked in the industry all his life.

“I get my love of technology from him,” she said. “I like all things computers and how they work, including video games. So this event has been an eye opener and has taken me more in depth in the field I enjoy.”

She added that her favorite part of the event was being able to speak with professors, industry professionals and immerse herself in the technology by participating in the Capture the Flag competition.

“This whole experience has been phenomenal. It’s preparing me for the future and has given me a lot to think about and consider. It’s been an invaluable learning experience.”

Her peer Andrew Loya, also an eighth-grader at Sharyland North Junior High School, shared the same sentiment.

“This has been a great opportunity for students like me. It creates awareness of what is possible and gives us the resources we need for the future, said the 13-year-old. – It has been interesting to see everything the field has to offer. It has been exciting.”

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Salinas called the event a success since so many students like Cain and Loya left inspired.

“This is just the beginning. We hope to make this an annual tradition every October,” he said. “This year’s event exceeded all expectations and we look forward to making it bigger and better.”

For more information about STC’s Cybersecurity program, visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/cybersecurity/

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