Dallas Cybersecurity Community Activates for Students
Armor Cloud Security hosted nearly 100 students and a bevy of security professionals for our first Dallas Converge Tour event of the year. Board Members Raf Los, Rick Holland and local market volunteer Alan Espinosa helped plan an incredible day of cyber education.
The Alliance welcomed students from four Dallas ISD high schools, including South Oak PTECH, David W. Carter PTECH, North Dallas PTECH, and W.H. Adamson PTECH, to an impressive conference facility at Armor. “Although we host events at all types of venues; high schools, colleges, conference centers and more…we love the opportunity to bring students directly into the offices our members work in for a fully immersive experience.” – Executive Director, Sidney Plaza.
Our program began with a morning huddle, introducing each of the professional volunteers to each other, and setting the agenda for the day. Mentors were provided with all the resources they would need to share with the students their personal experiences, and guide them through our Capture the Flag experience. Sidney Plaza welcomed students, teachers, and volunteers with a brief presentation on the industry, the challenges, and the career opportunity for students.
Our members are combating adversaries all over the world, and doing so at a major disadvantage due to a lack of qualified talent in the space. We are working to close that gap by inspiring and engaging students to consider a career in the field. Our message is simple…we have a space for each and every student that wants a fulfilling, in demand, and lucrative career in cyber.
Gamified learning is growing in popularity not only in schools, but also in the leading corporations that employ our members. The Alliance has embraced this trend with our Capture the Flag experience, powered by our friends at Facebook. Students are presented with 86 different challenges. “The game is pretty complex. We have everything from very simple quiz questions to challenging flags. We are showing our students a wide range of cybersecurity skills; from basic lookup tools like builtwith and CMS lookup, to more in depth cryptography decoders and geolocation spoofing.
Students are typically broken into teams of 2-3 students, encouraging teamwork, collaboration and problem solving skills. Each event presents unique challenges, sometimes including the technology itself. We realized quickly that some of the school provided computers, wouldn’t work off the local school networks. The mentors encouraged students from different schools to welcome each other onto larger teams and deal with the inconvenience, a good illustration of the working world.
Our group of volunteers came from widely varying backgrounds and were able to provide examples and context to the students as they worked together to solve each CTF challenge.
The workshop concluded with a discussion around the career paths of several of our volunteers. Raf Los, Strategy VP at Armor, Rick Holland, CISO at Digital Shadows, Paul Catalyund, Chief Security Officer at Palo Alto Networks, Jennifer Duman, Chanel Lead at Armor, Marilyne Mendolla Head of Indications & Warnings at Armor and Heather Hepler, VP of Human Resources at Armor all shared their unique paths that brought them to their current roles.
A passion for learning, ownership of your personal career and accountability were common themes amongst the panel. Students asked questions about college degrees, certifications, career changes and more.
The Cybersecurity Converge Tour is made possible by the support of our volunteer members, hosts like Armor and our Global Partners Palo Alto Networks and Microsoft.