The ICTC CyberTitan competition was Monday, June 8. (Photo Credit: ICTC CyberTitan)

Maple Ridge teacher’s cybersecurity team wins place in Canadian finals

Took tenth place overall

A hedgefund is hacked and, before everyone’s eyes, money starts being funnelled out of the accounts.

This was the scenario of the third annual Information Communications and Technology Council’s CyberTitan finals, on June 8, that featured a team from B.C. sponsored by a teacher from Thomas Haney Secondary.

For the past three years students have travelled to Ottawa for the event. But this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all 57 competitors took part, virtually, in the six-hour competition that spanned the country, from their own homes.

Team 404, for which Jamie Scoular was the educator sponsor for, beat out 200 other teams from across the country to earn their spot in the finals.

Every year the competition is based on a different scenario, explained Diana Barbosa, ICTC director of education and standards from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Last year they were on a cruise ship and the cruise ship got hacked, she said. This year’s scenario, called Hedge Fund 2020, was set in the financial industry.

Competitors initially started the competition by finding vulnerabilities or holes within the system, just as if they were security specialists on the job.

READ MORE: Cybercriminals using coronavirus-themed emails to deliver malware: report

But after trying to fix the vulnerabilities, explained Barbosa, the bad guys get in.

They get into the system and start stealing information. And, in this particular case, the kids actually got to see money being funnelled out of the accounts, noted Barbosa.

Competitors had to do two things, fend off the attack while making sure that the systems are secured so that in future they are protected, she said.

CyberTitan is a program through ICTC that helps educate students on cybersecurity skills and inspires them to pursue a career in cybersecurity and STEM-related fields.

CyberTitan’s affiliation with the U.S. CyberPatriot program culminates each year in a global virtual cyber defense competition, held once a month from October until February, involving more than 5,000 teams.

Teams were made up of between four and six students. Team 404 was made up of three students from schools in the Lower Mainland.

“This year one of our big accomplishments is that we have three female captains,” added Barbosa, noting the first year of competition there were no female competitors.

READ MORE: Trudeau cabinet ministers get special hacker hotline to report suspected breaches

A full day of competition took place Monday, June 8. Then on Tuesday, students will got the opportunity to converse with sponsors, including the Communications Security Establishment about cybersecurity jobs and upcoming trends in cybersecurity.

The opening ceremonies took place on Wednesday with a speech by Canadian National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan followed by awards.

Team 404 came tenth. First place went to a team from Manitoba, second to a team from Alberta and third to a team from Ontario.

Winners received gift cards for each member of their team worth up to $1,000 to an electronics store, plus some additional prizes.

The goal of the program is to expose the participants to cybersecurity careers.

“Cyber crime now exceeds drug cartels as far as profits,” said Barbosa.

“So there’s a real, real need” for people to enter the industry, she said.

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