Civil Air Patrol team prepares for cybersecurity competition

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— Aidan Gibbs wouldn’t necessarily call it stressful.

He wouldn’t say there were tremendous expectations.

But as Gibbs and the Steamboat Springs Composite Squadron prepare for the Regional Recognition Round of Cyberpatriot, it was hard not to think there won’t be some pressure.

After all, the event is unique in its own right.

It involves teams from across the nation to tackle a cyberdefense competition created by the Air Force Association.

“Before this competition, I didn’t have a very good grasp of cybersecurity at all,” said Gibbs, a member of the four-person team. “I didn’t know what a firewall did. I didn’t know the settings you wanted and the vulnerabilities you look for. Now, I know how to look at that stuff.”

The teams participate remotely via the Internet, and the competition lasts six hours. They are presented with three computer operating systems — from Windows to Linux and more — and a scenario.

The scenarios differ.

“Basically, the computers are sabotaged,” coach Dennis Kinder said. “They have viruses, malware or inappropriate passwords and users. They have to fix those computers and make them safe. They get a general scenario and fix it.”

After six hours, teams are scored on how well they did with each computer and operating system.

The team consists of members from Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Craig. Captain Nate Ditges is from Craig, Andrea Houston is from Hayden and Gibbs and Joshua Heald are from Steamboat Springs. 

Kinder had heard about the program several years ago and wanted to put together a team after talking to a coach from Colorado Springs.

This year, he found enough members from the Civil Air Patrol to compete. The team comped in events in November, December and February. The team won the Cyberpatriot State Recognition round in February and will compete Saturday in the Regional Recognition Round against first-place teams from Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

“We’d like to take the region,” Kinder said. “There is some tough competition, but we’d love to do that.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

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