Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards joined governors from 27 other states in congratulating the winners of The National Governors Association (NGA) Cyber Competition. It was sponsored by Gov. Edwards and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and was hosted by the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), the academic division of the Cyber Innovation Center, headquartered in Bossier City, LA. The competition happened within the span of 24 hours, between Wednesday, April 24 and Thursday, April 25.  

Next month, on May 14, Gov. Edwards, who serves as co-chair of the NGA’s Resource Center for State Cybersecurity, will host the National Summit on State Cybersecurity in Shreveport-Bossier. It is the only national conference focused exclusively on state and local cybersecurity. The high school challenge was the first competition of its kind to be hosted by the NGA and was held to lead up to the summit.

“Every school that participated did an outstanding job, and I’m especially proud of all of the Louisiana schools that took part,” said Gov. Edwards. “This competition tested the students’ creativity and knowledge within a short period of time. Hopefully, it has given them an even greater desire to pursue this field of study as they continue their education and possibly as a career. Congratulations to everyone. This event has only added to the excitement of the first-ever cybersecurity conference Louisiana will host next month.”  

The competition took place in a virtual environment called a cyber range. The NICERC Cyber Range, powered by Virginia Tech, provides a safe, virtual environment with an extensive library of curricula and hands-on exercises, allowing K-12 students the chance to gain relevant and applicable cybersecurity experience.  One style of competition on the cyber range is Capture the Flag (CTF).

“CTF is a cybersecurity challenge designed to both test knowledge and teach cyber-related skills," said Kevin Nolten, Director of Academic Outreach for the Cyber Innovation Center and NICERC. Nolten adds, “The problems are broken into categories, such as reconnaissance, web exploitation, cryptography, networking, and reverse engineering, with each challenge having a varying point value corresponding to the perceived difficulty.”

More than 1,200 students comprised 312 teams from 27 states competed in the national cyber competition. Richardson High School in Texas took first place, Oakton High School in Virginia placed second and Langley Virginia High School in Virginia and Whitefish Bay High School in Wisconsin tied for third.

Five teams from three high schools in Louisiana placed in the competition with St. Joseph’s Academy from Baton Rouge taking eighth place. Airline High School in Bossier City had two teams in the competition that placed 32 and 34. The two teams from Magnolia Charter School in Shreveport came in at 121 and 125. 

Click here for the scoreboard and complete list of winners.