A hands-on, interactive summer workshop to promote cybersecurity awareness and educate Missouri K-12 teachers will take place this June at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
The project, called the “GenCyber” camp, is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Security Agency (NSA). The camp is part of an NSF/NSA pilot program to educate K-12 teachers about the need for more cybersecurity experts and is the first and only camp of its kind in Missouri. Forty-three camps have been sponsored throughout the country this year.
During the two-week camp, held June 1-12, 25 teachers from around the state will learn practical safety and security measures to ensure a secure online presence. Workshops will include password cracking, unsecure network data collection, how to build and create firewalls, digital forensics, combating live malware attacks, and other awareness training.
“The goal of this NSF/NSA pilot program is to help spread awareness throughout the country about the need for greater cybersecurity and more cybersecurity experts,” says Dr. Dan Lin, associate professor of computer science at Missouri S&T and the camp coordinator. “We are training the teachers so they can introduce the field and its careers to their students at an earlier stage and a trickle-down effect of knowledge will occur.”
The NSF and the NSA are trying to fill the need for experts in both government agencies and in private industry by teaching cybersecurity at an earlier age. The agencies hope to hold 200 camps around the nation by 2020.
“Most of camp participants do not have programming or computer science backgrounds, so the camp will show that the field is not hard as long as you are willing to learn and have proper training,” says Lin. “If computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields were introduced at an earlier age to students, they would be more willing to join the field. Once students are entering college, many are intimidated by cybersecurity or think the field is too hard to enter.
“Cars and even planes can be ‘hacked,’ and a major strike against U.S. digital infrastructure like power grids or large banks could be devastating to the country,” Lin says. “This is why cybersecurity must be brought to the forefront of education.”
For more information, visit the GenCyber website at gen-cyber.info.