A Code for Success: Cybersecurity Team Receives Platinum Distinction

Building on their accomplishments during the 2018-2019 school year, The Masters School’s Cybersecurity Team, comprised of Zach Battleman ’21, Matt Nappo ’21 and Brandon Zazza ’21, advanced to the platinum tier in the state round of CyberPatriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition on Saturday, December 7, 2019.

In addition to taking home top-tier status, the trio of juniors also finished in the top 10% of teams in New York state.

The annual competition requires teams of high school and middle school students to play the role of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. During each round, teams receive a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services in a six-hour period. “You find 60 to 70 percent of the vulnerabilities within the first hour and a half,” Zazza explained. “Everything else is intuition.”

Since placing in the gold tier and advancing to the semifinals last year, the team members have been focusing on improving in certain areas. Zazza noted that, as each of them has grown their respective skill sets, the team has “become more and more experienced and are more coordinated.” Director of Innovation and Engineering John Chiodo said that the competition itself is also an opportunity for the students to continue honing their skills: “With each round of competition, the team learns more,” Chiodo said. 

The team will soon be heading to the next round of competition, the semifinals, with the prospect of potentially participating in the national final competition. And while they are aiming to go all the way to nationals, Zazza’s aspirations are simple: “The big thing I want to take away from this experience is having fun and learning.”

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