One of the things I try to work on in my spare time is CTFs, TryHackMe, and other cyber competitions. But the one I have been working on professionally for a long time is the National Cyber League (NCL), one that spans across the United States and has students from high school to college compete in various categories. NCL aims to give real-world experiences before getting a job in cyber security.
What is it?
According to the NCL site,
” NCL’s mission is to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity professionals by providing high school and college students and their coaches an online, safe platform of real-world cybersecurity challenges.”
Now I began my NCL journey at Oklahoma Christian University (OCU), where I trained with Prof. Curtis Coleman and other like-minded students to prepare for three different competitions:
· Individual Games
· Team Games
All ranged with varying difficulty; of course, if you were one of the many students that scored all or most of the points, you were placed into one of the highest rankings:
I’ll show you my improvement from my first year to my most recent year. The competition happens in the spring and then in the fall. This is a nod to anyone in high school or college that you need to be participating in these types of competitions! This will look great on your resume. Recruiters’ lookout for these Scoring reports as well! What NCL teaches in competition carries students farther than starting a job; they have some experience going into the field.
My First Year
The NCL does not give scouting reports for the Pre-Games; it’s automatically added to the Individual Games Score Report. Spring 2020 was the first year I competed with OCU with many other students; it still was very distant but, overall, a great experience.
For the Individual Games:
The first-time competing didn’t bring much joy. Still, with every competition season, in the end, they show only the methodologies to getting the correct answer, so this was enlightening that they had professionals and competitors wanting to share how to get better without giving away the answer.
For the Team Games:
Still great for the first time in a new competition, I loved talking to my teammates and coordinating how we spent time in each category to get a rounded experience.
NCL teaches high schoolers and college students how to deal with an organization and its resources. What is the network made of? What type of attack was performed? What were Cryptography methods used to transfer the stolen data? Where was it found, and what were the coordinates of said rendezvous point?
So cut two years later from doing National Cyber League, here is all the training and learning from other resources plus the National Cyber League slack channel:
This year was incredible, I looked back at the reports between these two years, and this was the best I’ve done in a long time.
This Year, I competed with Rose State College, where I am currently studying for an associate degree in Cyber Security. There I will also complete associate degrees in Incident Response and Digital Forensics.
National Cyber League is a leader in giving experience first to students who may not have a job in cyber security yet. My profession requires me to have the same expertise I needed in NCL to succeed. Thank Curtis Coleman and Kenneth Dewey for being my coaches in these fantastic competitions.
If anyone is interested in NCL, contact me on Linked In, and I can assist with helping your high school or college to get started in these competitions. This is the future; we should begin to teach the next generation the type of jobs that will be abundant in this world.