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LINCROFT, NJ — On June 13, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) hosted the Girls Go CyberStart Luncheon Awards at Brookdale Community College to honor the New Jersey teams chosen for the Girls Go CyberStart Championship Finals.
For the second straight year, NJOHSP partnered with the SANS Institute in an initiative that provides girls the opportunity to learn cybersecurity skills, discover their talents, and explore what a career in the field entails. High school girls in grades nine through 12 or the home-school equivalent were invited to participate in the Girls Go CyberStart challenge, a cyber competition throughout New Jersey and the United States.
“The entire State of New Jersey benefits when our young women succeed,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “This competition encourages girls to gain a greater knowledge and understanding of the various opportunities available to them in STEM fields. It propels the next generation forward into career paths where they were previously underrepresented.”
Girls Go CyberStart is a cybersecurity skills program designed to educate and inspire high school girls to consider careers in cybersecurity. This year, over 10,000 girls across 27 states took part in the first stage of the program, CyberState Assess.
“The knowledge and dedication displayed by all of the girls involved in the Girls Go CyberStart challenge is proof of the priority placed on cybersecurity in our State and across the country,” said Jared M. Maples, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, which is responsible for cybersecurity in the State through the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell. “By participating in opportunities such as this competition, young women can both learn and contribute to efforts that help make our State cyber safe.”
For the first month of the CyberStart Game, beginning on March 20, girls applied their cyber skills to accumulate points, vying to be one of the schools invited to the third and final stage. From the schools with the highest scoring participants, 120 teams compromised of four girls each were chosen to compete in the national online “Capture the Flag” competition. Thirteen schools from New Jersey reached the national finals.
“New Jersey faces a shortage of experts in STEM-related fields, and the data tells us that the shortage in cybersecurity is especially acute,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “As a father of two teenage daughters, I’m especially excited to see a program offered in high schools that might inspire young women to someday become cyber-sleuths who keep consumers, government and business networks safe from online threats.”
The top-scoring teams in the final round, both nationally and per state, will win cash prizes for students and their schools. An additional 10 high school juniors and/or seniors with high scores in the CyberStart Game will be awarded $500 each in college scholarships.
“We’re continuously reminded of dire shortages of skilled cybersecurity professionals in the workforce. While there may be a shortage of individuals pursuing a career in cyber, there is no shortage of talent,” said Michael Geraghty, Director of the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell. “The 1,154 New Jersey girls who participated and excelled in this year’s competition are a testament to that. As adults, we need to provide opportunities to cultivate that talent, and the Girls Go CyberStart program is a great platform to do just that.”
More information on registration and participation can be found at https://girlsgocyberstart.com.
The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP), a Cabinet-level agency, was created in 2006. The Director serves as the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor, and is responsible for leading and coordinating the State’s counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and emergency preparedness efforts while building resiliency throughout the State across all levels of government and the private sector. NJOHSP oversees and distributes discretionary State and federal homeland security and emergency preparedness funds on behalf of New Jersey. More information about NJOHSP can be found at www.njhomelandsecurity.gov.
The New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) is New Jersey’s Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO). As the State’s one-stop shop for cybersecurity resources under NJOHSP, it serves governments, businesses, and citizens across New Jersey by promoting better awareness of cyber threats and the adoption of best practices. To learn more about the NJCCIC or to become a member, please visit www.cyber.nj.gov or follow the NJCCIC on Twitter @NJCybersecurity.