State of Montana Announces Cybersecurity Awareness Initiatives for Montana Students

State Information Technology Services Division
  • November 02 2021


HELENA – The State of Montana today announced it will again partner with national organizations to promote cybersecurity awareness with two initiatives for K-12 students and one for college students.

Now in its third year, the statewide Kids Safe Online Poster Contest encourages young people to think about cybersecurity and help educate their peers regarding safe online practices. The contest is conducted in conjunction with the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) National Kids Safe Online Poster Contest. It is open to Montana students in kindergarten through grade 12. Students will create posters based on a security awareness topic, such as safe use of the Internet or mobile devices.

Additionally, Montana is partnering again with the SANS Institute to promote innovative student programs. CyberStart America gives high school students a free and fun opportunity to learn cybersecurity skills and qualify for the National Cyber Scholarship Competition. Cyber FastTrack offers college students a way to simplify and accelerate their path to a well-paid and in-demand career. Top-scoring eligible players will be invited to apply for cyber training scholarships worth $3,000.

“Safety for our Montana children is every parent and teacher’s concern,” State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen said. “This creative opportunity points to awareness as our students engage through digital learning and social interaction. It’s a win to learn cybersecurity skills and potentially qualify for the National Cyber Scholarship Competition,” Arntzen added.  

School principals, administrators, or teachers should register their school in the Kids Safe Online Poster contest by December 3, 2021. Student entries must be submitted by December 17, 2021. Registration information is at

The Montana Information Security Advisory Council (MT-ISAC) will pick 13 finalists, and Governor Greg Gianforte will select the top four winners across the state. The top 13 posters will be featured in the 2023 Montana Kids Safe Online calendar and entered into MS-ISAC’s national poster contest. The four posters chosen by Governor Gianforte will be used in cybersecurity awareness and computer safety campaigns around the state.

“The Kids Safe Online Poster Contest is a great way for parents and teachers to discuss being safe online with young people and for students to share their online safety tips with their peers,” said State Chief Information Officer Kevin Gilbertson.

The 2019 state winner was Hayden from East Helena’s Radley Elementary. Sarah, another Radley Elementary student, was one of 13 national winners in the 2019 MS-ISAC Kids Safe Online Poster Contest. Mercy from Three Forks School was the 2020 state winner.

Andy Hanks, Montana’s Chief Information Security Officer, said, “Reviewing all of the posters submitted by Montana’s K-12 schools is one of my favorite things about my job and I look forward to it every year.”

For older students, CyberStart America and Cyber FastTrack offer a chance to learn offensive and defensive security techniques while competing in over 200 security challenges with a chance to win scholarships.

More than 200 Montana students played in CyberStart America in 2020-21; 16 advanced to the NCS Competition.  Across the country, 30,000 students sought to qualify for the competition; only 5,000 advanced. Hunter from Hamilton was named one of the National Cyber Scholars after competing in the national competition. Montana's National Cyber Scholar is among the best 600 high school students nationwide who completed the grueling 48-hour competition that challenged participants to solve computer security problems and/or capture and defend computer systems. In total, Montana students earned more than $6,000 in scholarships and training.

Registration is open now for CyberStart America at and for Cyber FastTrack at Find more information for all three programs at