The 2021 Olympics are still a few months away, but the Bay Area Cyber League got the Olympic spirit started at the end of 2020 with the Bay Area Cyberlympics competition. The event was sponsored by the Bay Area Community College Consortium under the direction of Regional Coordinator Irvin Lemus and Bay Area ICT-DM Regional Director Richard Grotegut.
More than 75 students from throughout San Francisco and Monterey Bay participated virtually in six different “cyber games” in November and December. Rounds included Open Source Intelligence, a Wireshark competition, and a Crypto challenge.
“The crypto challenge was actually a combination of both cryptology and steganography,” Lemus said. “The competitors had to figure out what the algorithm is in an attempt to recover the original message.”
The Cyberlympics also gave students the opportunity to interact with industry partners from across the region to learn about cybersecurity career pathways. Kaitlyn Handelman, a security engineer at NTT Data, said industry connections can sometimes be more important than specific degrees.
“Focus on having fun and making friends and getting into a community because those are the things that are going to land you in positions,” Handelman said. “Anyone can get a degree, but how many people are involved in their local hacking space? Being part of a community is very important.”
Britney Vi, a former Cabrillo College student now studying at UCSD, said students should not be afraid to ask questions and talk to their professors if they need help. Getting to know Lemus at Cabrillo helped solidify her interest in cybersecurity and set her on a career pathway.
“It’s no big deal to not know something. That’s why you’re in school – you’re there to learn,” Vi said. “If I wasn’t in Irvin’s program, I wouldn’t have considered cybersecurity.”
Lemus said the Bay Cyber team is already hard at work planning the spring regional competition in April. For more information, visit baycyber.net/.