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BREVARD COUNTY — As we progress further into a technological-based era, learning the skills to assess and solve cybersecurity issues is more crucial than ever.

A local chapter of Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) at the Florida Institute of Technology is part of a growing worldwide organization that creates opportunities for women through mentorship programs, career fairs, professional development, and more.

Dr. Sneha Sudhakaran started the Florida Tech chapter of WiCyS and helped to bring the first Cyber Heroine capture-the-flag competition to its campus this year.

“WiCyS has a mentorship program that I’ve been attending since my Ph.D. days,” Sudhakaran said. “Having that in my life has helped me as a woman to come into cybersecurity and know all the things that I was unaware of regarding this.

“I decided to participate every year in the WiCyS conference,” she continued. “I could see how different chapters in different universities worked and what they do for the community. It led me to start a chapter when I became an assistant professor at Florida Tech.”

Every year, Florida Tech has a famous Space Heroes CTF event hosted in partnership with the FITSEC club. It inspired Sudhakaran to try something a little different this year.

The inaugural Cyber Heroine CTF competition from Sept. 8-10 will pose cybersecurity challenges that participants must overcome when they log in to the competition.

Students in the cybersecurity field learn a lot of theories, but they need to be able to apply their knowledge to prove their mastery of analysis, troubleshooting, and identifying/solving cyberattacks.

“Apart from the Cyber Heroine CTF, we’re providing one-day mentorship program for high school kids to give them an idea how to learn some basic stuff,” Sudhakaran said.

This is just the beginning of developing a relationship with local high schools, and Sudhakaran hopes to see more students come into the cybersecurity field as they get a better understanding of the field.

Sudhakaran can relate because she too was a high school student, not sure of what direction to take after graduation. When someone came to her school to explain what a computer virus was, Sudhakaran only thought humans could get a virus.

“It gave me a curiosity knowing, just like human beings, even computers have these kinds of problems,” Sudhakaran said. “I started reading about it and I understood that I wanted to find solutions. I was interested in investigative stories, and it’s exactly what I’m doing now, which is cyber forensics.”

To register and learn more about Cyber Heroine CTF, visit www.wicys.org/event/cyber-heroines-ctf.

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