Training and Building the Team

Goals

A team must establish realistic goals. A new team, for example, may have the goal to simply compete in all available rounds. A team with some competition experience may set their goals based on improving their tier and score from previous competitions. The established goals will then determine the level of effort the team puts forth. Teams striving to make it to the national finals competition will likely start practicing up to three hours a week as early as July for the following year. Teams that are just getting started or are focused on learning and growing with their cybersecurity skills will set more modest expectations.

Training Material

As a starting point, teams should read, study and discuss the training material found on the CyberPatriot web site and also the material from the coaches dashboard. Using this information alone, teams should be able to glean enough information to develop their own checklist and competition strategy. The information presented in the training modules along with reading and understanding the instructions given for a competition round should allow the team to score at least 65% of the available points in the first two competitive rounds. It cannot be emphasized enough that the training material provided is sufficient to get a team started. As teams compete in more rounds and learn of the issues that CyberPatriot presents in the images, teams can build a library of techniques to use in later rounds.
The NCCyP team is working to add to this initial set of training to help CAP CyberPatriot teams become more competitive over time. This training is also aimed at fostering an interest in continuing to learn about the profession leading to potential technical certifications, college scholarships, work internships and even full employment. Coaches should also promote the Cyber Defense Training Academy (CDTA) and the National Cadet Summer Activities to their most committed cadets.

Training Schedule

As mentioned above, the amount of time a team chooses to train will be dependent on their interest and their goals, and the availability of the coach/mentor to support. If the coach is able to recruit team members at the beginning of the summer, a monthly training session incorporating the CyberPatriot exhibition round images can work well. For teams that are just getting started, this monthly schedule may work best as the fall begins. Teams with more competitive goals may choose to practice more often or for longer periods of time for a given practice. Practice sessions can occur in the evening during the week or on a weekend, whatever works for all involved (i.e. coach/mentor/parents/cadets).

Leadership

Cyber is a team sport. Individual effort may carry a team through a round but it takes a team to compete seriously. Just as leadership is a hallmark of the CAP cadet program, leadership is key to a successful CyberPatriot team. The team coach should identify team leaders. Being a team captain should not necessarily be based on CAP rank. Rather, it should be based on experience with computers and leadership potential. Cadets who may not be ready to be a CAP flight commander can gain valuable leadership experience as a team captain on a CyberPatriot team.
The Team Captain will help assign roles and responsibilities to each of the team members, both in practice sessions and during the competition. For example, based on training or past experience, one or more cadets on the team may be designated as the lead for Linux or for Windows Server. The Team Captain will also help make decisions throughout the competition. Coaches are not able to provide assistance of any kind during the competition rounds, so having a Team Captain can prevent the team from making crucial mistakes.

Cisco Networking Academy

Cisco is a major sponsor of the CyberPatriot program. As such, securing and configuring networks is becoming a larger part of the overall competition. Cisco has a virtual classroom environment called the Cisco Networking Academy where training modules are developed and posted.
Each team member, coach and mentor will have access to the Cisco Networking Academy. Coaches will be enrolled as instructors in the academy. From there, the coach can activate pre-planned lessons for team members to work. If the coach is familiar with Cisco technologies, they can also develop their own modules for insertion into the lesson plan for their team.

ITPro.tv

ITpro.tv is a sponsor of CAP's Cyber Defense Training Academy and has issued a free 11-hour course on CyberPatriot. Coaches, mentors, and team members should review the course material as it provides an excellent introduction to the material that CyberPatriot covers.