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California Cyber News

May 10, 2018
Sacramento, California
Contact: Teana Fredeen
(805) 235-3361 [email protected]

Battling cybersecurity threats seems like a challenge that even the strongest superhero can’t solve. But when a team of cyber heroes works together and puts their minds to something, great things can happen.

These young cyber heroes come from all walks of life and represent the best and brightest of what California has to offer. There are some daunting cybersecurity challenges facing our communities and businesses, but students across California are receiving the training necessary to conquer them.


Read more: Challenge Prepares California’s Students to be Cyber Heroes

Contact: Teana Fredeen

Phone number: (805) 235-3361
 Email: [email protected]

California Mayors Cyber Cup demonstrates Californians’ innovation and dedication to building a strong and ethical cybersecurity workforce.

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - On April 28, California cyber teams will gather in the Greater Sacramento, Central Valley, Bay Area, Inland Empire/Desert, and Orange County regions to compete for their respective regional cup. They will all be fiercely determined, and they will all be under 18.

They are coming together for the California Mayors Cyber Cup, an event that brings high school and junior high school students from across the state to represent their specific cities in a cybersecurity competition. With an Avengers-like sensibility, team members work together to take on the treacherous challenges of cyber-space. Each student brings their unique vision and talents to the table, to benefit the entirety of the team. In doing so, they are creating a truly extraordinary model for how we all should be approaching cybersecurity.


Read more: California Uses Cyber Competition to Bring Cybersecurity Awareness to Communities Across the State

From the moment Irvin Lemus got his first computer, he was hooked. It was an Apple 2E, and he told his dad that he wanted to know exactly what was inside of it.

Now, Lemus works to instill that same passion for technology into the students he teaches and coaches throughout the Bay Area. Lemus is the cybersecurity instructor at Cabrillo College and the Bay Area Cyber Competitions Regional Coordinator for the Western Academy Support and Training Center.

Lemus said he was drawn to cybersecurity because no two days are ever the same and it provides him the opportunity to continue to learn in an ever-changing environment.

“You have to always learn new ways of securing everything. Working in this field put my knowledge and critical thinking skills to the extreme,” Lemus said.


Read more: Irvin Lemus: A Young Leader in Cybersecurity Education

BY SARA FRIEDMAN 04/27/2018 Article originally posted on GovCyberInsider

As a first line of defense, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework helps federal, state and local governments -- as well as organizations across all industry sectors -- manage cybersecurity-related risk.

Version 1.1 is an update to the original released in February 2014 and is meant to serve as a living document where changes can be made as cyber environments and risks shift.


Read more: NIST refines Cybersecurity Framework


This article was first posted on The Conversation.

Within the past few weeks, two large American cities learned that their information systems were hacked. First, Atlanta revealed that it had been the victim of a ransomware attack that took many of the city’s services offline for nearly a week, forcing police to revert to taking written case notes, hampering the Atlanta’s court system and preventing residents from paying water bills online. Then, Baltimore’s 311 and 911 dispatch systems were taken offline for more than 17 hours, forcing dispatchers to log and process requests manually. Both attacks could have been prevented. And they are more evidence of the poor, if not appalling, state of local government cybersecurity in the United States.


Read more: Local governments' cybersecurity crisis in 8 charts

Article originally posted on www.infosecurity-magazine.com

A recent survey was conducted with cybersecurity professionals around what skills are needed for recent graduates to enter the workforce in a junior security role.

The survey was conducted by Shawn Davis, adjunct industry professor at the Department of Information Technology and Management at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s School of Applied Technology, and he was able to collect 100 responses. He said the purpose was to aid instructors in ensuring their curriculum measures up to industry expectations, and present students and recent graduates with guidelines of areas they should put more self-study effort into.

The survey results showed that over 90% of respondents rated “core security concepts,” over 70% “network and host attack vectors” and over 60% “user authentication and access control” as the most important factor.

Lower down, and only demanded by around 60% as most important, were skills on OS hardening, web application attack vectors and basic shell scripting.


Read more: Which Capabilities and Skills Do Hiring Companies Actually Want?

How high schools are trying to attract girls to this lucrative tech field

Original article posted on hechingerreport.com

LITTLE SILVER, N.J. — The four members of Team Throckmorton, playing junior agents for a cybersecurity firm, are up against a wily gang of hackers. To detect and ultimately thwart the cyber criminals, who are masquerading as legitimate business owners, the Throckmortons must solve a series of increasingly difficult challenges beginning with figuring out how to log into one of the gang member’s social media accounts by cracking a password reset form.

Gathered around a large wooden table in the computer room at Red Bank Regional High School, the girls, working on school-issued black Dell laptops, snack on lunch from brown paper bags and occasionally help themselves to Oreo cookies from a communal pack. Erin O’Kane, a 10th-grader, fills an index card with numbers as she decodes a classified message online. Seated across from her, Hannah Gazdus, a junior and a member of The Team That Must Not Be Named, is using her lunch period to scan a block of Python code for green-highlighted text, which indicates the presence of suspicious commands.


Read more: Jobs in cybersecurity are exploding: Why are women locked out?

Earlier this year, more than 30 schools and over 500 registrants from throughout Southern California came together to compete in the SoCal Cyber Cup Challenge — an event that’s designed to open up the cybersecurity community to anyone who wants to participate.

With an unprecedented need in the cybersecurity workforce across California, it’s time for businesses, educators, and other partners to step up to the plate and figure out how to solve this problem. The SoCal Cyber Cup Challenge is one opportunity to do that and organizers hope they can continue to grow the program while serving as a model for other parts of the state.

The Challenge is organized by the Securing Our eCity Foundation, an organization devoted to “helping every San Diegan live, work, and play safely in the cyber world. Additional support comes from the National Defense Industrial Association (NIDA) San Diego Chapter, and National University.


Read more: SoCal Cyber Cup Challenge Invites Collaboration to Solve Cybersecurity Workforce Needs

BY SARA FRIEDMAN 03/29/2018 Article originally posted on govcyberinsider.com

The California Department of Technology supports is close to 150 state entities providing government services, so securing all those systems can be a heavy lift. To help the state get a better handle on the effectiveness of its security programs, CDT devised the California Cybersecurity Maturity Metrics to benchmark agencies' security posture and measure progress as audits and improvements are made.

The metrics take best practices from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework and the Center for Internet Security's top 20 controls, then tailors them for California agencies. They were created through a year-long effort, involving CDT, the California Cybersecurity Integration Center, California Highway Patrol and the California Military Department.


Read more: California crafts its own cyber metrics

Cyber competitions are activities that bring cybersecurity awareness to communities and build strong and ethical character in the students who participate. This, in turn, helps build a strong future cyber workforce across California.

Building on the CyberPatriot competition supported by the U.S. Air Force Association (AFA), California offers additional regional competitions to the existing CyberPatriot teams. The winners of the regional competitions will automatically be invited to participate in the California Cyber Innovation Competition state competition hosted by Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo June 22-25.

San Diego County held their regional finals, the Southern California Cyber Cup finals, on March 24th and five other regions will hold their competitions on April 28.


Read more: Regions Across California Host Cyber Competitions On April 28

See original post here.


“This program will help students across California gain new technical skills to spur new innovation and strengthen cybersecurity.” - GO-Biz Director Panorea Avdis

Event set for June 22-25 at California Cyber Training Complex in San Luis Obispo

SAN LUIS OBISPO — As part of California’s continued leadership in strengthening career pathways for cybersecurity, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) and Cal Poly today announced the 2018 California Cyber Innovation Challenge, set for June 22-25. Twenty teams of high school students will compete at the California Cyber Training Complex (CCTC) in San Luis Obispo, California, on June 23-25, following a cybersecurity workforce development summit on Friday, June 22.

Read more: California Cyber Innovation Challenge

Sean McNally doesn’t mind being busy. These days, he practically has two full-time jobs — one as a math teacher at Elk Grove High School and the other as a CyberPatriot coach and coordinator.

McNally has become a leader in the cybersecurity education community, continually working to empower his students with the same level of drive and dedication he’s shown over the course of his career.

He was named the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot Teacher of the Year for California in 2014 and 2015 and continues to look for new ways to further the CyberPatriot program throughout the state.

Humble Beginnings

Raised by a single mother, McNally credits the Boy Scouts with teaching him the value of leadership. He rose through the ranks and earned the rank of Eagle Scout, scouting’s highest honor, by the time he turned 18. He also developed a love of math as a child and uses that in his work as a teacher.

“Scouting taught me that if you make up your mind ahead of time to do the right thing, then 80% of all your decisions are already made for you. The remaining 20% of your decisions will depend on your experience,” he said. “Not everyone relates to math like I do. It is my responsibility to bring enthusiasm into the classroom and show them they can have fun with math.”

McNally’s enthusiasm and interest in math made him a natural fit for the CyberPatriot program. He first learned about the program when he played softball with an Air Force Association liaison that told him all about CyberPatriot.

After a chance meeting at his 20th high school reunion in 2011, he met James Vahanian, an information security analyst at Wells Fargo, who would go on to help him mentor his first team of nine students at Elk Grove High School. Vahanian’s background helped to supplement instruction in firewall configuration, intrusion detection, and penetration testing.


Read more: Cyber Hero Sean McNally Inspires CyberPatriot Students, Teachers, Coaches

Everyone involved in the California Cyberhub already knows the impact Donna Woods has made on advancing cybersecurity education throughout the state. That message spread to a much larger audience earlier this month when she was honored by the California Legislative Women’s Caucus as part of Women’s History Month.

On March 10, Assemblymember and Higher Education Chair Jose Media recognized Donna as one of 20 influential women who serve as positive role models to their communities. Woods was honored for her career as a STEM educator and advocate for underrepresented students.

"These women of distinction have exhibited an unwavering spirit of commitment to society and displayed a devotion to empowering women of all ages," Medina said.

As a founding member of the California Cyberhub, Donna has worked to enhance the relationship between government, education, and industry so all three can effectively work together to provide pathways for students across the state to pursue careers in cybersecurity — improving their economic outlook and filling the increasing demand for workers in this field.

Never one to take the spotlight, Donna says she’s grateful for the support she receives from the Cyberhub team.

“Throughout the event, I was thankful for each individual on our team and grateful for the work of everyone contributing to California Cyberhub,” Woods said. “I felt honored to represent our team’s efforts, and I am proud of our work. I am grateful that our work is being recognized by the state as a worthy cause, imploring others to support our endeavors.”

In addition to her work as a founding member of the California Cyberhub, her volunteer service activities include: Girls Excelling in Mathematics Successfully, Girls that Code, Hour of Code, the NSA National Day of Cyber, Safe Cyber for Senior Citizens, coaching award- winning CyberPatriot teams, and mentoring new coaches and educators in cybersecurity curriculum and competitions.

Donna said this work is all in service of a broader goal that motivates her in everything she does.

“I am reminded of the incredible responsibility that we have going forward,” she said “I feel it every time we give a presentation, speak on the radio, support a cyber cause or competition, or receive an award. It's humbling because in all we aspire to do, our mission, vision, and focus must consistently be in serving the need and the greater good of all things cyber.”


Read more: California Assembly Honors Donna Woods

By Sharon Broomall

When April Xie joined a CyberPatriot competition team as a San Diego high school sophomore in 2014, she probably didn’t know how far the experience would take her.

Team coach and Northrop Grumman Communications business unit (BU) Engineer Paul Johnson — as well as Northrop Grumman managers and recruiters — most likely did.

Xie, now an 18-year-old freshman at MIT planning to major in computer science and engineering, interned the last three summers with the Communications BU’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) cyber team, where she impressed her supervisor not only with her technical knowledge but with her ability to work seamlessly with BACN engineers.


Read more: CyberPatriot Program Grooms the Future Cyber Workforce While Closing the STEM Gender Gap

More than half of the teams competing in the CyberPatriot X National Finals in Baltimore will be from California — a testament to the dedication and collaboration by education and industry partners throughout the competition this year.

The official results of the CyberPatriot Semifinals were released Friday. California will be sending eight teams in the Open Division, all three teams in the Middle School Division, and seven teams in the All-Service Division. Those teams will represent every corner of state from San Diego to Sacramento.

California Cyberhub Community Manager Donna Woods said the continued success of these teams exemplifies the collaborative mission of the Cyberhub and its members. Hundreds of advisers, mentors, teachers, and coaches worked together to support students throughout the competition.


Read more: 18 California CyberPatriot Teams Advance to the National Competition

Cybersecurity Community Mourns Loss of Harry Talbot

The California cyber education community lost a dedicated and passionate cybersecurity education advocate with the passing of Col. Harry Talbot on January 30. He will be remembered as one of CyberPatriot’s greatest advocates and someone who consistently went above and beyond to help students succeed.

Talbot, a longtime employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), founded the district’s CyberPatriot program nearly a decade ago. Under his leadership, LAUSD earned two CyberPatriot National Championships and became the first Center of Excellence to register 100 CyberPatriot teams.

Talbot also served as an Administrative Coordinator with the Beyond the Bell program in the LAUSD. That position included oversight of more than 600 schools offering grant-funded before and after-school programs.

He facilitated the acquisition of federal, state, and private grants for more than 100,000 students in those programs on a daily basis and contributed much of his own time on evenings and weekends to ensure that those efforts were successful.

LAUSD CyberPatriot Coach Carey Peck worked closely with Talbot and said he possessed a combination of big-picture vision and the attention to detail to make his ideas come to life.


Read more: CyberHero: Harry Talbot

Alysia Stark hopes to gain hands-on experience through Coastline apprenticeship program

Alysia Stark has always had an interest in technology, but it wasn’t until her son, Oliver, began competing on a CyberPatriot team that she thought of it as something she could do as a career.

Stark is currently pursuing an associate degree at Coastline Community College and is in the process of applying for the school’s Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program. She spent most of her career as a graphic designer and was a little apprehensive at first about making the change.

“I did some web design back in 1995, but when things progressed to needing to hire a programmer, I stayed on the creative side of it,” Stark said. “My son inspired me through CyberPatriot and after hearing how exciting it was, I signed up for classes that day or the next day.”

Stark began taking classes at Coastline in fall 2016 and has maintained a 4.0 GPA ever since. She’s enjoyed the classes she’s taken so far but is looking forward to putting some of those skills to use through the apprenticeship program.


Read more: Son inspires cybersecurity career change

Some 89% of CISOs are concerned about rising digital threats across web, social, and mobile channels.

  • 89% percent of CISOs are concerned about the rise of digital threats they are experiencing across web, social, and mobile channels. — RiskIQ, 2018
  • 67% of CISOs said they do not have enough staff to handle the amount of cyber alerts they receive daily. — RiskIQ, 2018

The barrage of cyberattacks that CISOs must diffuse on a daily basis show no signs of slowing: 89% of all information security leaders report concerns over the rise of digital threats their organizations are experiencing across web, social, and mobile channels, according to a new report from RiskIQ.


Read more: Security nightmares: These 3 threats keep CISOs up at night

Article originally posted on The Tribune

Coast Union’s two Cyber Patriot teams have qualified for the state semifinals this coming Saturday, Feb. 10. In the most recent competition, Jan. 19, to be eligible, Coast’s teams needed to be ranked in the top 25 percent of the 805 teams competing. Indeed Coast’s teams achieved sixth and 54th place overall, according to CUHS instructor Ayen Johnson.

Read more: Coast Union Cyber Patriot teams advance to state semifinals

Article originally posted on The Tribune

Thieving, tech-savvy hackers continue to impose their dark expertise on both civilian and government servers as well as websites across the U.S. and worldwide. But two teams of Coast Union “Cyber Patriots” are receiving training to pave the way toward possible vocations as IT professionals — in the vital areas of cybersecurity, engineering and other science-related careers.

In statewide competition this past June, the CUHS Cyber Patriots were named “Best New Team.” And in competition on Dec. 8, both of Coast’s team qualified for the “Gold Tier” (between Platinum and Silver) level during statewide competition, which will continue at Coast Union on Jan. 19-21.

Read more: Coast Union cyber teams advance in competition

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