All rounds of competition in CyberPatriot, with the exception of the National Finals Competition, take place online. Teams may compete from any location; many participate at their school, organization, or public library. Competitions take place on specified weekends throughout the school year. Teams must complete all their work during one (1) six consecutive-hour period on the Friday, Saturday, or Sunday of these competition windows. They may only have one instance of an image open at a time. Here's how it works.
Many of these steps are illustrated in this instructional video.
Before the round
- Train: Teams should start training for the competition as soon as they can before the first round. Updated training materials are on the dashboard that Coaches and Mentors see upon signing into the website. These training materials are a great place to start, but they do not cover everything. Teams should rely on their Technical Mentors to receive more advanced training. Archived training materials are available on the public side of the website.
- Prepare: All teams should make sure that they have the hardware, software, and network capabilities required to compete successfully. As the goal of the program is to have as many teams as possible competing, technical requirements are kept to a minimum.
- Download: About a week before the competition begins, the CyberPatriot Program Office sends an email with round instructions and links to download the virtual machine images (operating systems that can be played on top of other operating systems). These files are very large and should be downloaded and well before a team is ready to compete. Teams also verify that their download was successful before the round begins. There are usually two or three images per round.
During the round
- Extract: In the morning of the Friday of the competition weekend, teams receive an email with the password to extract the virtual machine images from their downloads. After doing so, they can load the images in VMware Player and begin competing.
- Identify: When the images are opened, teams are prompted to enter a Team ID. This is a ten-digit alphanumeric code that is assigned to teams and delivered to them along with the extraction password.
Team ID Box on a Virtual Machine Image
- Fix: The goal of every CyberPatriot competition is to find and fix vulnerabilities in their images. These images range from simple (e.g. giving users strong passwords) to much more complex. Some rounds also include networking challenges in the form of quizzes and Cisco Packet Tracer activities. Teams can also gain points by answering questions about their actions on the image.
- Score: When teams fix a vulnerability that is being checked, they receive points. If they take an action that makes a system less secure, they lose points. Teams can also gain points by answering forensics questions about actions they took to solve their vulnerabilities. Teams can checked their progress on their score report page.
Score Report Page
- Compare: A live scoreboard is available for teams to see how they stack up against others in the country. These scores are unofficial and undergo review by CyberPatriot staff following the competition.
- Ask: CyberPatriot staff is available to answer technical support questions during the round by chat and by phone at 877-885-5716 during peak competition hours. Instructions for accessing the tech support chat are sent to teams at the beginning of each round. Teams may not ask questions about vulnerabilities during the technical chats
After the Round
- Delete: All virtual machine images should be deleted after the round is over to maintain the integrity of the competition.
- Wait: CyberPatriot staff reviews all the scores following the competition and releases official scores and standings to teams within a week after the round is over.