Competition Overview


Looking to promote the competition or get involved? Check out the competition engagement guide!

CyberPatriot's National Youth Cyber Defense Competition is the world's largest cybersecurity competition and is open to all schools and approved youth organizations. Before getting started with the registration process, review this competition overview to get a better understanding of the competition!


  • Coach: An adult (e.g. teacher, JROTC instructor, administrator, parent, etc.) approved by a participating organization to act as the administrative lead of a CyberPatriot team. The coach is the main point of contact for competition-related correspondence. A team can only have one coach. 
  • Competitors: Each CyberPatriot team must consist of between two and six competitors enrolled in the participating school or organization. While up to six students are permitted on each team's roster, a maximum of five students are permitted to compete at any one time during a competition round. A one-time substitution can be made each round.  
  • Technical Mentor(s): IT​​-experienced individuals who volunteer to assist in the cybersecurity training of CyberPatriot teams. Mentors must register on the CyberPatriot website and are required to successfully complete a background check before being eligible to officially join a team. (Minimum age: 18)
  • Team Assistant(s): Adult volunteers who provide non-technical support and encouragement to the team (assisting with scheduling, set-up, snacks, etc.). Team assistants must register on the CyberPatriot website and pass a background check. (Minimum age: 18)

Based on the competitor composition, a team is assigned to one of three divisions:

  • Open Division: High school students from schools, scouting units, Boys and Girls Clubs, home school programs, STEM programs, etc.
  • All Service Division: High school students in JROTC Programs / Civil Air Patrol units / Naval Sea Cadet Corps units
  • Middle School Division: Middle school students from schools, scouting units, boys and girls clubs, STEM programs, etc.


CyberPatriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition challenges teams of high school and middle school students to find and fix cybersecurity vulnerabilities in virtual operating systems. Using a proprietary competition system, teams are scored on how secure they make the system. Top teams advance through the online round of competition, and the best of the best advance to the in-person National Finals Competition.
Each team has two challenges during their four-hour competition period:
  • Network Security Challenge: involves finding and fixing security vulnerabilities in Windows and Linux operating systems.
  • Cisco Networking Challenge: consists of an online quiz and a virtual networking exercise based on specific training materials.


CyberPatriot is designed for any student, regardless of prior cybersecurity knowledge. Training materials are available through the volunteer dashboard and through Cisco Networking Academy.  Instructions for competition round preparation are emailed directly to coaches prior to each round.
CLICK HERE for a general overview of how to prepare for a round
CLICK HERE for an in-depth explanation of how the competition works
CLICK HERE for a full list of competition hardware and software requirements
CLICK HERE for the full competition rules book


All rounds of competition, except for the National Finals Competition, take place online. Teams may meet at and compete from any location – classroom, computer lab, public library, home, etc.

Teams qualifying for the National Finals Competition travel all-expenses paid to Bethesda, MD in the spring.


Team Registration: April 1 – October 3, 2023​ (You must register a team to get access to the rounds below)

  • Exhibition Rounds: Basic practice rounds available during the summer months - May to August
  • Training Round: A basic practice round that includes an answer key - September
  • Official Practice Round: Final practice round before the scored rounds begin  - October
  • Scored/Live Rounds: Competitions take place on specified weekends throughout the school year. Scored rounds are held one weekend a month from October​ to January​. Teams choose any four​-hour period during the competition weekend (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) to complete all their work. 

Ready to sign up a team? Get started now.