UNbreakable Romania is an end-to-end cybersecurity educational program for high schools and university studentsfrom Romania by Bit Sentinel. UNbreakable’s mission is to provide young cybersecurity enthusiasts with resources, so useful for developing the skills needed to become good cybersecurity specialists.
Bit Sentinel is involved in various international activities focused at promoting cyber security among young generations, including European Cyber Security Challenge (ECSC), ICSC and the national phase (ROCSC) since 2018. Over the years it has been noticed that these competitions are focusing mainly on “elites” – finding best individuals to represent their nation at ECSC/ICSC but organisations do not necessarily want or afford the best. Moreover, even for entry level jobs, companies expect previous experience which in cyber security is hard to get/prove.
UNbreakable’s mission is to provide young cybersecurity enthusiasts with the most varied resources, both theoretical and practical, so useful for developing the skills needed to become good cybersecurity specialists.
In addition to an intensive learning environment, the initiative also provides a competitive, testing virtual space that encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing. In the end, UNbreakable results can be used when apply for the first jobs by showing the results during the competition.
Get to know the program
The program, which usually takes 3-4 months every year, has four main phases:
- Bootcamp: Participants can access theoretical and practical resources to familiarize themselves with the competition format and methodology. They can also get in touch with mentors (industry experts and community alumni), participate in theybinars etc.
- Individual Competition: Participants will compete for 48 hours. The objective is to solve as many cybersecurity challenges as possible and send as many correct answers as possible to reach the top of the leaderboard. At this stage, participants evaluate their performance on an individual level and see what knowledge needs to be improved.
- Team-Based Competition: In cybersecurity, soft skills such as communication and teamwork are just as important as technical skills. This phase allows participants to form teams of up to 3 members with complementary knowledge to solve exercises in different areas of cyber security for 48 hours. There is one important twist: teams can be formed with their colleagues from the same educational institution. In this way, the premises to create local communities is created.
- Individual Report: Participants receive a report of their progress for the entire program. This can be used to improve their future skills or show their results during a recruiting process.
Why is this a good practice?
The program is hosted every year in the first half of the year and UNbreakable do not plan for this to stop anytime soon. There have been four organized seasons and a fifth one is currently in progress. Throughout these seasons, a total of three bootcamps have been conducted, and there is an ongoing fourth one. Approximately 50 mentors have been actively involved in guiding the participants.
In terms of content, the program has provided around 150 exercises and labs to the participants. Moreover, every year the the library of educational resources is also improved by introducing new themes and previous year’s exercises. These are part of eight training modules that cover various topics and skills.
Regarding the number of participants, there have been a total of 2800 individuals who have taken part in the program, and an additional 700 are currently participating in the ongoing season. The number of participants is continuously growing as the program progresses.
The program has managed to establish connections with 35 universities and 75 high schools, with representatives from these institutions being involved in the program during 2022. Moreover, out of the 41 counties in the region, the program has consistently managed to have representatives from 39 to 40 counties each year. Moreover, UNbreakable plans to replicate the program in other countries when they find the right partners.