As Teachers and Administrators wind down this school year and begin to plan for the next, they might consider focusing on “information security.” Students should be familiar with the importance of security and privacy risks when using computers in our networked schools and society.

Every day there is a reminder in the media that the nation is at risk due to vulnerabilities inherent in our free and open information communications network and our international business systems. Work that is of vital national and economic importance can only be performed by citizens of the United States with technical proficiency and appropriate security clearances. There will be many jobs for students dealing with information security.

This current school year we celebrate the initiative of a group of our teachers who took the extra effort to engage students in the US Cyber Security competition for high school students. California led the nation as 224 students from 22 state high schools enrolled in the contest making California the state with the most competitors. Nationwide, nearly 800 students competed in each of the two rounds that concluded in April. The top performing school (most points) in the country was The Global Information Technology Academy of Brea Olinda High School. Meanwhile, three students from Mission San Jose High School scored first, second and fifth in the nation.

In the contest, students were provided access to online tutorials on aspects of information security dealing with networking, operating systems, and system administration and then compete for the highest score. At the end of the competition, classroom teachers agreed the effort was worthwhile and that they would have their students compete again.

The Center for Internet Security and SANS Corporation established this competition to identify high school students to help address a critical shortage of experts in the field of Information Security, which is also one of the top priorities of the Obama administration.

This competition is now a yearly event next scheduled to begin this fall: