Girls Go CyberStart: Hawaii High Schools Participate in Inaugural National Cybersecurity Games

Kalani High School team among top 10 contenders

Kalani High School sign


In an effort to stimulate interest in the growing cybersecurity sector, the SANS Institute launched Girls Go CyberStart, a national online competition exclusively for high school girls.

The new young women’s competition peaked interest in rudimentary cybersecurity areas such as cryptography, web attacks and digital forensics through a series of engaging puzzles and fun logic challenges.

Girls Go Cyber Start teaser challenge

A teaser challenge embedded in a QR code, this screenshot is an example of puzzles teams had to work together to solve in the competition. Photo: CyberStart US.

One hundred and eighteen local teams made up of 329 Hawaii students participated in the games in late February. Transform Hawaii Government congratulates the eight teams who advanced to the top one hundred and extends special recognition to the Kalani High School “Idalings” who placed in the top 10.

Girls Go CyberStart’s format was based on the successful CyberStart pilot project in 2017. Last year, more than 300 Hawaii participants faced off against 3,500 other students from 17 different states during CyberStart, with the Aloha State providing the largest amount of participants per capita.

Hawaii joins the nation in a shortage of qualified cybersecurity experts. While the IT sector has made progress in inclusivity, the tech labor force remains a male dominated industry.

“The nation desperately needs more highly-skilled cyber professionals, and we have evidence that CyberStart improves the quality of individuals entering the cybersecurity field,” said Alan Paller, SANS director of research, in a press release. Further, the two best cyber intrusion analysts I have ever met were named Vicki and Judy, yet women are woefully underrepresented in the technical side of cybersecurity. By opening CyberStart to thousands of high school girls we hope to help the nation identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.”

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