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Sisler rookies star at CyberTitan

April 7, 2021
Sisler Cyber Patriot Grade 9 team

A group of Sisler High School students shined in their first cybersecurity contest. 

From November to January, Grade 9 students Erik Easter, Lakshay Sharma and Sukhman Khaira competed in three rounds of CyberTitan, a national cybersecurity competition, finishing 12th overall. 

Sisler Cyber Academy teacher Robert Esposito said the Grade 9 team’s strong showing was a pleasant surprise.

“They had no prior experience in cybersecurity and installing a virtual machine,” Esposito said. 

“The competition rounds were six to seven hours long on the weekends and we had our team meetings after school at night. There was a massive time commitment from the students. Also, we were all connecting virtually. It took a lot of guts for these Grade 9 students to step up and want to do this.”

Easter, the team’s captain, said he wanted to participate in the competition to “have fun and learn more about cybersecurity.” 

During CyberTitan, the students were tasked with securing several operating systems, which is the interface between a computer’s hardware and the user. 

“We were given a situation where a company wants us to make sure the computers are safe and to not disable specific things or we would lose points,” Easter said. 

“We were also asked three to four forensic questions about random things which could give us a lot of points. I would try to secure Windows Server, which is just like regular Windows, but it has different services. Lakshay got Windows and Sukhman had Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a free, open-source operating system that mostly uses commands to navigate through it instead of a GUI (graphical user interface), which Windows mostly uses.”

Prior to joining the team, Khaira said she was oblivious of alternative operating systems.

“I didn’t even know there were other operating systems other than Windows,” Khaira said.

Not only did the Sisler team overcome their lack of experience, they did it while playing shorthanded. Most teams competing in CyberTitan have at least four members. 

“If they had four people on their team and that fourth person performed just as well as these three students did, they probably would have placed second or third in Canada,” Esposito said.

Sharma said the CyberTitan experience was “amazing” and he can’t wait to participate in more competitions. 

“It has taught me so many more ways that I can protect my computer. I most definitely want to be in the cyber program at Sisler until I graduate,” Sharma said.

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