Cyber Defense Club competes in CyberPatriot event

Gold squad qualifies for National Semifinals


Reagan Pohl

Cyber Defense Club members collaborate and practice cybersecurity skills at meeting on Jan.19 (Pohl/LION).

Cooper Anderson, In-Depth Editor

Since the beginning of this school year, Cyber Defense Club members have been involved in the CyberPatriot competition, conducted by the National Cyber Defense Council and Air Force Association. After squads completed practice rounds and the state round, the gold-tier squad qualified for the national semifinals competition. 

The Cyber Defense Club, formally known as CyberPatriots, is a group of students who are interested in protecting data systems and data storages. Members are able to practice applying their cybersecurity skills through various competitions held throughout the year. Club co-sponsor Ed Tennant has been involved since the beginning of the club and knew he wanted to be involved upon learning more about the CyberPatriot organization’s philosophy. 

“We’re not cultivating or encouraging attack modes or hackers,” Tennant said. “In terms of what the industry call[s] red teams and blue teams, we have always taken the blue-team approach.”

In the cybersecurity industry, the red teams are the “attackers” trying to break through defenses. The blue teams work to respond to these incidents and defend against the attacks. 

Club co-sponsor Julie Bryar-Smith found interest in the club as a teacher for the new AP Computer Science Principles class. Additionally, her children have careers in the cybersecurity field, further connecting her to the club, she said. 

“I thought [the club] would be a fun way to see what we can do to expose students to this topic that is really relevant and exciting,” Bryar-Smith said. 

Brandon Hornickle ‘23, who helps lead the platinum-tier squad, has been involved in the Cyber Defense club since his freshman year. After trying many different clubs, his interest in cybersecurity and technology was what made it stick for him, he said. 

“I have always been interested in computers and learning how to build [them],” Hornickle said. “I had always wondered, ‘How do you secure it? How do you make sure you don’t get hacked?’ Cyber Defense Club has been a great way to learn about all of that.”

The spring semester is a much more relaxed time for cyber defense members since they are not focused on the CyberPatriot competition. During this time, they plan on hosting guest speakers that are professionals in the cybersecurity field, and overall educating and exposing themselves more to the industry. 

The Cyber Defense Club meets every Thursday in SC room C210 at 3:15 p.m. For more information, see the club’s instagram page @lt_cybersecurity.