Local high school students may be the future of cybersecurity :: WRAL.com

As cyberattacks have become more prevalent, cybersecurity experts tell WRAL the industry is becoming popular among high school students.

Eighteen students across North Carolina have earned the title of National Cyber Scholar after winning a nationwide scholarship competition and of these 18, 13 are from the WRAL viewing area.

Emily Chen is a rising senior at Panther Creek High School and loves cybersecurity.

“To me, cybersecurity is really about like problem solving,” Chen said.

Chen proudly boasts the title “National Cyber Scholar.” Recently, she put her skills to the test in a competitive, 48-hour nationwide competition where students had to solve a series of security challenges and puzzles on computers.

“The skills we’re using within the competition can be used to fight attacks such as the pipeline,” she said.

Rob Main, Interim State Chief Risk Officer of the North Carolina Department of Information Technology says that this next generation may be our best line of defense.

“The generation that’s coming up, next generation, is willing to step up and fight or defend against next generation cyber threats,” he said.

Main says ransomware attacks on the country’s largest fuel pipeline and the world’s largest meat processor ignited an interest among students who may have never been interested in cybersecurity before.

“What we need to do is establish a pipeline of young, energetic, talented individuals that are willing to enter into this field,” Main said.

It’s also a field National Cyber Scholar Eli Edds has his eyes on for a while as he leaves Riverside High School in Durham to study computer science at NC State.

“Starting to see how much of an impact cybersecurity has and all the attention it’s gotten recently has made me realize how important the field is,” Edds said.

Each of these 18 local scholars received a $2,500 scholarship.

About 30,000 students across the country wanted to take part in this competition.

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