Girls cyber security team places first in state, 19th nationally

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A team of Noblesville High School girls has been nationally recognized for their skills in cyber security.

Last month, the group took park in the 2019 Girls Go CyberStart Challenge, a cyber security skills-based competition designed to encourage girls to become critical thinkers and explore careers in the field of cyber security.

The NHS team, which consisted of Samantha DuBois, Katherine Sandys, Lauren Sandys and Anna Taylor, placed first in the state and 19th nationally and was among three other Indiana schools to rank in the Top 35 nationwide. Warren Central High School ranked 23rd, and North Wood High School ranked 31st. Indiana ranked sixth among the 27 states competing.

The event, organized by the SANS Institute, challenged competitors to solve cyber security-related puzzles and tested them on topics such as cryptography, programming and digital forensics. Each team was comprised of four students and an advisor.

Lisa Held advises the NHS team.

“I am delighted by my team’s success in the Girls Go CyberStart competition,” Held said. “The young ladies had a blast working together using research, trial-and-error and creativity to solve the hands-on, engaging challenges. It was an awesome experience.”

Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch recognized the three Indiana teams July 24 at the Cybertech Midwest Conference in Indianapolis.

“It’s exciting to see young women taking an interest in the cyber security field, a field mainly dominated my men,” she said. “Organizations like SANS Institute and the Indiana Dept. of Homeland Security that are supporting efforts to skill-up young females are such vital assets to our state and its workforce. The top three teams in Indiana have much to be proud of, and all teams have a bright future in front of them.”

The competition included 656 students in grades 9-12, an increase of more than 250 from the previous year. A record 27 states sent teams. The program also expanded this year to include college-aged students. Both competitions included cash awards for the top three teams in each state.

According to the Indiana Dept. of Homeland Security, approximately 11 percent of cyber security professionals working today are women. Since 2010, cyber jobs have increased by more than 75 percent, outpacing the talent pool and resulting in more than 1 million unfilled cyber positions nationwide.

In Indiana, an estimated 2,300 jobs are unfilled, according to CyberSeek, a website that identifies the need for workers in the field of cyber security.

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