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President's competition strengthens nation, DoD cybersecurity

U.S. Air Force Airmen, President's Cybersecurity Cup competition team, pose for a photo inside Stennis Hall at Keesler Air Force Base, Dec. 12, 2019. The competition was initiated by President Donald Trump to strengthen cybersecurity across the nation and Department of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

U.S. Air Force Airmen, President's Cybersecurity Cup competition team, pose for a photo inside Stennis Hall at Keesler Air Force Base, Dec. 12, 2019. The competition was initiated by President Donald Trump to strengthen cybersecurity across the nation and Department of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Seth Haddix)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Cybersecurity is essential to the Defense Department and our nation as it can protect identities, sensitive information, and ultimately protect lives. The DoD has identified cybersecurity as a priority to instill safety and protect government assets and information.

The President’s Cup Cyber Security Competition, ordered by President Donald Trump, is aiming to strengthen cybersecurity through competition.

The teams who most efficiently and successfully execute cyber tasks such as finding viruses or solving issues within network traffic can win prizes up to $50,000.

Multiple teams from Keesler participated in the competition, which consisted of one team of instructors and two teams of students.

The instructor team was led by Tech Sgt. Michael Wooden, cyber warfare operations instructor.

Cyber skills are a necessity in the DoD and this competition can certainly strengthen our skills as a force,” said Wooden.

Second Lt. Aaron Zeichner, 333rd Training Squadron student, relates this competition to the Air Force and DoD’s spirit of innovation.

This competition has generated great training and practice to develop in-depth and important skill sets to improve the DoD through strengthening cybersecurity,” said Zeichner. “This has been very innovative for the federal government because of the way the participants strive to perform cyber skills and push themselves to the best of their abilities.”

First Lt. Alex Fulton, 333rd TRS student and member of Zeichner’s team, believes this event can develop the skills of more military and Air Force members.

The competitiveness is exciting and encourages people to be involved with technical skills,” said Fulton. “The idea of the competition can engage more military members and spread awareness of cybersecurity.”

Wooden believes developing our military members can lead to keeping the military’s assets more secure.

Technology is advancing and the world is becoming digital,” said Wooden. “Losing control of classified or private information can be damaging. It is important to protect these assets.”

One student team scored 7,000 points based on their technological abilities and placed 14th out of more than 200 teams.

This is the first President’s Cup Cyber Security Competition, but it is planned to be held annually.

Zeichner believes the future of the cup will continue to improve cyber innovation throughout the military.

This has been an amazing experience and has validated the DoDs investments in cybersecurity over the last few years,” said Zeichner. “The cup can continue to develop and strengthen our technological capabilities.”