Skip to content

Mission

Hack a Bit's mission is to provide a safe and ethical platform for students, ages 13-18, to learn the intricacies of cybersecurity and develop the skills needed to conduct offensive and defensive operations in the cyber domain--in order to make our world a safer place. To accomplish this, HaB provides a platform for students to learn, before testing that knowledge and those skills through three rounds of competitions. At the same time, HaB places enormous emphasis on connecting students to leading industry mentors.

Hard Skills

There are several well-established cyber competition/education programs in the modern world, but HaB is distinct in building off the absolute truth that to defend in the modern world you must understand how attacks are executed. In a controlled environment and with a fundamental focus on ethics, HaB takes bright motivated students and teaches them the skills they're excited to learn.

Other organizations and competitions avoid teaching offensive skills but HaB’s fundamental focus on ethics allows the competition to educate in the offensive space and test those learned techniques in a safe, controlled environment. When you have a surgeon remove your appendix, you want the one that has done the operation 1000 times, not the one who theoretically understands how an appendix is removed and can describe the process to you. There is no substitute for hands-on experience, especially in this space.

Soft Skills

Students will develop soft skills, such as presentation, communication and team building. Top teams earn their placement on more than just hard technical talent. In order to compete with the top teams students must develop and integrate all of these techniques. Working together to find vulnerabilities, attack challenges and defend their networks, students learn the critical soft skills that they will require upon competition completion. One of the most significant defecits in the professional space is these soft skills. HaB places a focus in this area because it sets competitors apart in the job market; the world needs many more strong leaders.

Contributors

Terry Willfong

Terry is the President of the College Options Foundation. He retired from the U.S. Army and has dedicated his life to improving the lives of underprivileged, underrepresented communities. Mr. Wilfong is one of the nation’s top experts on financing college and admissions, and he has worked with hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States. His knowledge of vulnerabilities within the U.S. led him down the path of creating a cybersecurity program to identify top-talented youth to fill the cybersecurity void. His mission is to continue providing opportunities for youth throughout the U.S., whether that means higher education or a specified trade like cyber security.

Nate Singer

Nate is a reverse engineer, exploit developer, and team lead with the Advanced Cyber Effects group, identifying vulnerabilities in embedded systems such as airplanes, ground vehicles, and submarines. He relentlessly promotes the development of hard-core technical capabilities in young students, specifically in the offensive space. While in the Air Force he was stationed in Texas and led a local school district to multiple state championships in cyber competition. Today alongside multiple youth programs, he leads a team of 60 professionals that has placed in the top 1% in all 14 competitions it has played this year.

Alyssa Ring

Alyssa serves in the U.S. Army as a Senior Intelligence Officer. She joined the College Options Foundation in 2021 with the intent to expand the Foundation’s reach throughout the United States. Heavily involved in the intelligence community, Alyssa saw the critical need to fill the cybersecurity industry with young, qualified, enthusiastic experts. She understands the importance of developing America's youth to become the first line of defense of our nation's most critical infrastructure. Understanding the criticality of a shortage of offensive and defensive cyber operators, Alyssa sought to partner with the best and brightest; Thus, Hack a Bit was born. Working together with a team of engineers and some of the best cybersecurity professionals, she and the team will be the industry’s leading source of identifying and educating young, talented individuals who have a passion for cybersecurity and wish to be value-added within the industry.

Benson Ku

Benson is a security enthusiast currently working in the endpoint security space. He spent time in the defense contracting space working on vulnerability identification in embedded systems and now leads teams building the next generation of endpoint security systems. Outside of his professional experience, he mentors young students at local cyber programs, exposing bright young people to the wonderful world of cybersecurity at an early age.

Wesley Thurner

Wesley is a penetration tester and security researcher with multiple decades of experience in information technology, systems configuration and network security. Over the years, he has served in various roles as a penetration tester, team lead, instructor and curriculum developer. As a cyber-game developer, he has developed and managed smaller-scale private events as well as large public events at conferences such as RSA and DEF CON, coordinating resources for as many as 5k participants. With a specialty in building real-world, immersive scenarios, he is currently the co-organizer of the Red Team Village CTF.

Darian Arnold

Darian Arnold is a lead developer and the infrastructure management supervisor for Hack a Bit live competition. Professionally, he is an expert in systems administration across a wide range of platforms and architectures currently providing administrative services to the U.S. government. He also has previous experience taking highschool students from zero to station championships and is a leader in the youth academic space. In the past he has not only educated students but build platforms for education and created engaging, participative learning environments for talented young people interested in the wonderful world of cybersecurity.

Michael Pelletier

placeholder

Terry Willfong

Terry is the President of the College Options Foundation. He retired from the U.S. Army and has dedicated his life to improving the lives of underprivileged, underrepresented communities. Mr. Wilfong is one of the nation’s top experts on financing college and admissions, and he has worked with hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States. His knowledge of vulnerabilities within the U.S. led him down the path of creating a cybersecurity program to identify top-talented youth to fill the cybersecurity void. His mission is to continue providing opportunities for youth throughout the U.S., whether that means higher education or a specified trade like cyber security.

Nate Singer

Nate is a reverse engineer, exploit developer, and team lead with the Advanced Cyber Effects group, identifying vulnerabilities in embedded systems such as airplanes, ground vehicles, and submarines. He relentlessly promotes the development of hard-core technical capabilities in young students, specifically in the offensive space. While in the Air Force he was stationed in Texas and led a local school district to multiple state championships in cyber competition. Today alongside multiple youth programs, he leads a team of 60 professionals that has placed in the top 1% in all 14 competitions it has played this year.

Alyssa Ring

Alyssa serves in the U.S. Army as a Senior Intelligence Officer. She joined the College Options Foundation in 2021 with the intent to expand the Foundation’s reach throughout the United States. Heavily involved in the intelligence community, Alyssa saw the critical need to fill the cybersecurity industry with young, qualified, enthusiastic experts. She understands the importance of developing America's youth to become the first line of defense of our nation's most critical infrastructure. Understanding the criticality of a shortage of offensive and defensive cyber operators, Alyssa sought to partner with the best and brightest; Thus, Hack a Bit was born. Working together with a team of engineers and some of the best cybersecurity professionals, she and the team will be the industry’s leading source of identifying and educating young, talented individuals who have a passion for cybersecurity and wish to be value-added within the industry.

Benson Ku

Benson is a security enthusiast currently working in the endpoint security space. He spent time in the defense contracting space working on vulnerability identification in embedded systems and now leads teams building the next generation of endpoint security systems. Outside of his professional experience, he mentors young students at local cyber programs, exposing bright young people to the wonderful world of cybersecurity at an early age.

Wesley Thurner

Wesley is a penetration tester and security researcher with multiple decades of experience in information technology, systems configuration and network security. Over the years, he has served in various roles as a penetration tester, team lead, instructor and curriculum developer. As a cyber-game developer, he has developed and managed smaller-scale private events as well as large public events at conferences such as RSA and DEF CON, coordinating resources for as many as 5k participants. With a specialty in building real-world, immersive scenarios, he is currently the co-organizer of the Red Team Village CTF.

Darian Arnold

Darian Arnold is a lead developer and the infrastructure management supervisor for Hack a Bit live competition. Professionally, he is an expert in systems administration across a wide range of platforms and architectures currently providing administrative services to the U.S. government. He also has previous experience taking highschool students from zero to station championships and is a leader in the youth academic space. In the past he has not only educated students but build platforms for education and created engaging, participative learning environments for talented young people interested in the wonderful world of cybersecurity.

Michael Pelletier

placeholder

Shift Cyber

Mission Statement

Shift Cyber's mission is to introduce and connect the youth with cybersecurity curriculum, application, and mentors in the industry. Shift Cyber provides a technical educational outlet for students aspiring to be a professional in the field. At Shift Cyber, we accomplish this by providing a curriculum-based approach to students and testing their knowledge and skill through a variety of competitions. Our goal is to introduce cybersecurity at a young age to increase the pool of talented cybersecurity professionals to defend systems throughout the globe.

Results

This is the latest offering from a new group that has now come together to form Shift Cyber. Previously these leaders have consistently taken youth teams to national finals in a variety of cyber competitions, have won top-level events against other industry experts and have even organized events for thousands of participants. The team consists of the most capable and well-networked individuals in the industry with connections to bleeding-edge government teams, private sector startups, fin-tech and large well-known organizations. Shift leaders have proven over the years that they have the background to deliver top talent and have been doing it for decades.

College Options Foundation

Mission Statement

The College Options Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to enriching the academic development of high school students and assisting them in their preparation for higher education. To accomplish the mission, they provide resources for college admissions and funding, utilize student planning guides, college exam study guides, admissions tutorials, personalized counseling, and conduct spirited academic, leadership, and cyber competitions for students nationwide.

Results

For the past 20 plus years, COF has been dedicated to preparing high school students for future success. COF has worked with, mentored, and coached over 500K high school students across the globe. COF has developed Total College Success ® (TCS), a college prep software used to assist students with ACT/SAT prep, the college-bound process, and the financial process of attending higher education. TCS is currently used in over 4.2k high schools. COF’s contracts with proponents of the DoD exceed $1.4M each year. COF is supported by a host of sponsors and is able to donate over $1M of product and instruction to underserved and underrepresented communities.