National Cyber League Boasts Record High Participation

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High school students can now match their hands-on cybersecurity skills against two- and four-year schools, providing a pathway to collegiate cybersecurity programs.

From students to teachers, the benefits of participating in the National Cyber League (NCL) run a wide gamut, and every season more people realize the appeal. This Spring Season, NCL surpassed a record by seeing 3,350 players.

The dramatic increase in NCL numbers from Spring 2017 (1,891) stems from new additions as well as the uniqueness of NCL. This season is the first time high school students can participate. Typically it is a collegiate game with hands-on, real-life experience aimed to help advance students in the cybersecurity workforce. For the high school crowd, NCL gives them an early jump in pursuing cyber skills and discovering a potential path to cybersecurity education.

“NCL is the leading collegiate educational cybersecurity competition today. We are excited about expanding the competition and learning experience to high schools across the country,” said Dr. Dan Manson, NCL commissioner. “High school students can now match their hands-on cybersecurity skills against two- and four-year schools, providing a pathway to collegiate cybersecurity programs.”

NCL also provides the new Coaches Calls, biweekly conversations that faculty can participate in to discuss cybersecurity and information technology education while learning how to improve student success. Each call has a different topic to direct the dialogue.

Additionally, the NCL has contributors and chief player ambassadors to encourage players. Kaitlyn Bestenheider, a graduate student at Pace University and instructor at Rockland BOCES, has played every season of NCL since fall 2015. She has a blog, cryptokait.wordpress.com, and encourages women and girls in this male-dominated field while also sharing her experiences.

“I hope to help students gain the confidence to sign up for their first Capture-the-Flag CTF) competition. I think NCL is the best CTF for students to do because it’s designed to be accessible for first-time cybersecurity students and still be challenging to prepare them for the workforce,” she said. “The challenges are based on real-world scenarios and help a student gain valuable insights into the workforce even if they aren’t ready or able to have an internship.”

Aside from all the new additions, NCL is unique on its own. From classroom resources to sample syllabi, NCL is accessible to students as well as instructors who can register as coaches (which comes with free registration) and integrate the game lessons into their coursework. NCL also expressly validates skills and competencies while preparing participants for EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker and the CompTIA Security +.

“NCL is a brilliant opportunity for our students to apply their skills or learn new skills they haven’t encountered yet in their studies,” said Brady Nielson from Spokane Falls Community College.

About National Cyber League

The National Cyber League (NCL) provides a cybersecurity training ground in a high-fidelity simulation environment that requires participants to work individually in the Regular Season and in teams during the Postseason events. The NCL events are designed for participants to solve real problems with actual deadlines under time, technical and resource constraints. The NCL assists higher education institutions across the country in student preparation for its events and for professional certifications. Companies seeking qualified talent can access the NCL’s Scouting Reports to evaluate potential cybersecurity professionals who have demonstrated skills in the NCL events. The NCL is where cybersecurity is a passion for students, faculty and the workforce. To learn more, visit nationalcyberleague.org.

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