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Cyber Security Squad Qualifies for Nationals

The Cyber Security Squad Qualifies for Nationals Cheltenham High School Cyber Security team of freshmen Ella Homa and Maddie Messa, and juniors Lisa Lam and Rachel Hanes placed 103rd out of 276 teams from across the country in this week’s Girls Go Cyberstart team National competition. The girls finished fourth in Pennsylvania, barely missing out on third place. The students completed 43 percent of the tasks and scored 1,450 points while competing in the 48-hour competition from their homes on virtual machines


Sample problem

Decode: Mofab fp Zebiqbkexj!

Hint: Caesar cipher is the encryption technique.

(Answer at the bottom)


“This was our first year of competition and all four women are new to cybersecurity competitions,” said team advisor Sarah Putterman, who has been advocating for an expansion of the school’s computer science courses to include cyber security and game design, which will happen this fall. “Making the national level of competition was a fantastic way to end the season. We look forward to coming out strong next year with active participation in multiple Capture the Flag competitions as early as September. While not ideal, distance learning has opened multiple avenues to improve computer science education for Cheltenham.”


The four students qualified based on their performances in individual competitions earlier this season. Thirty-six CHS students (boys and girls) participated in national qualifying rounds. The team started this past December and has been practicing online through various competitions and hacking events. During the government-mandated school closure, the cybersecurity team and computer science honor society have hosted numerous overlapping events to keep skills sharp. 


The competition’s top-scoring team won $400 per team member and $250 for their school. The CHS team is one of six from Pennsylvania, and one of more than 400 schools from across the country to qualify and less than 300 to participate in the competition. 


Through the Girls Go Cyberstart program, which encourages high school girls across the country to explore their skills in cybersecurity and keep the United States on the Internet, students explore cryptography, digital forensics, open source intelligence gathering, Linux and more. 


The decoded message is "Pride is Cheltenham!"