CANBERRA, 14 September 2022 — Hundreds of year 10, 11 and 12 high school students participated in the second PeCan+ event over the weekend. Originally developed as a competition between Perth and Canberra, this year’s event welcomed new entrants in South Australia and Tasmania.
PeCan+ is a jeopardy-style, capture the flag event. Teams of four participated with difficulty levels for beginners, intermediate and advanced levels with more than 50 challenges and activities for students to participate in.
Over the two days, students were able to learn and put their skills to the test in the interests of fun and ethical hacking. Participants learnt file forensics, cryptography, reverse engineering and much more on Saturday before Sunday’s main event and competition.
In Canberra, over 60 students attended the event which was held at ANU’s Co-Lab. Louise Hegarty, AustCyber’s National Node Coordinator, said the event was a huge success for all involved.
“The energy in the room was electric! Having inter school teams was powerful - they all learned so much about what it takes to capture the flag. We are very proud of our winners in Canberra and all the students assured us that they will be back,” said Ms Hegarty.
In Adelaide, Paula Oliver from the AustCyber South Australian Innovation Node said the event, hosted at the University of Adelaide, showcased some of the best up-and-coming minds in the cyber security sector.
“Adelaide has always punched above its weight in terms of cyber talent, and this year’s event has proven this to be true. The enthusiasm and eagerness to learn from the students was amazing.”
Cecily Rawlinson, AustCyber’s Western Australia Innovation Hub Director said the competition had come a long way since its original inception in 2021.
“It was incredible to see such interest in the event this year, doubling in size - likely also to do with some high-profile cyber attacks, and also the excitement of the ASD coin hack challenge released a few weeks ago.
“It was also great to see the diversity of participants and schools involved in Western Australia, including Noongar students,” said Ms Rawlinson.
Edith Cowan University’s Dr Michelle Ellis, who coordinated the national event, said “It was truly incredible to see the collaboration across the universities and the generosity of the university students in setting up the challenges for the day, and testing all the tech.”
Casey Farrell, AustCyber’s Tasmania Innovation Node manager, said he was thrilled to be involved in a truly national event.
“It’s the first time the Tasmania Cyber Security Innovation Node has run a local event for an interstate CTF competition and we’re very excited about the engagement from schools and the University of Tasmania,” said Mr Farrell.
AustCyber’s CEO Michael Bromley said AustCyber’s node network was delighted to participate in the event.
“It’s fantastic to see programs like this. From beginner to advanced, PeCan opens the door to our future generation getting involved in cyber security. I want to thank Michelle Ellis for her hard work and dedication to this exciting project, and thank AustCyber’s node and hub network for their excellent coordination and delivery.”
Without the support of partners and sponsors, this event would not have been able to proceed. Thank you to ASD, Microsoft, the University of Adelaide, ANU, University of Canberra, Edith Cowan University, the University of Tasmania, Canva, CyberCX, Bunnings, Cisco, ES2, Seamless Intelligence and Trustwave.
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