CompTIA is partnering with the National Cyber League to train high school and college students to compete in a cybersecurity challenge.
Image: National Cyber League

The National Cyber League (NCL) has a new partner in its work to promote careers in cybersecurity: CompTIA. The certification company is helping the NCL with the twice-a-year cybersecurity competitions designed for students interested in the field.

CompTIA will host educational sessions on the CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway and offer prep sessions to help NCL players get ready for the 2020-21 competition schedule.

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NCL’s chief Player Ambassador Kaitlyn Bestenheider (aka “CryptoKait”) will work with CompTIA to ensure that all industry domains are incorporated into the NCL competition.

More than 10,000 students from 300 colleges and universities across the US compete in these games. Here are the dates for the NCL 2020 Fall Season:

  • Registration opens Aug. 23
  • Practice sessions go from Sept. 14 – Dec. 8
  • Preseason to get bracketed for the individual games is Oct. 12 – Oct. 19
  • Individual games are Oct. 23 – Oct. 25
  • Team games are Nov. 8 – Nov. 8

The competitions are open to US high school and college students and will test competitors on the ability to identify hackers from forensic data, pentest and audit websites, and recover from ransomware attacks. It costs $35 to participate.

Players who place at the top of each bracket during the NCL’s Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 individual competitions will receive a free CompTIA student membership.

Students on the championship teams will receive a free CompTIA certification exam voucher, self-study test preparation materials, and full CompTIA membership.

CompTIA has three security tracks: Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+), CASP+, and PenTest+. The CySA+ applies behavioral analytics to the IT security field. The CASP+ validates critical thinking and judgment across multiple security disciplines in complex environments. PenTest+ is for midcareer professionals who use penetration testing to manage vulnerabilities on a network.

The NCL is a nonprofit founded by public agencies dedicated to developing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. The training company Cyber Skyline sponsors the NCL.

There are free resources available for students and people new to the cybersecurity field, including:

  • Trail of Bits CTF Guide: This resource explains how capture the flag competitions work and includes a list of competitions and ideas on how to prepare.
  • Awesome CTF: Github put together this list of tutorials, software, resources, frameworks and libraries to help people new to CTF competitions as well as veterans.
  • Reddit’s SecurityCTF: This forum hosts real-time questions and answers to questions about competitions and strategies.
  • Vulnhub: This practice zone includes labs built for beginners to test cybersecurity skills.

There are several collegiate-level competitions as well, including the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, and the Global Cyberlympics. Cyber Quests are online challenges that also test participants’ security skills.