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Camp Prepares 9th to 12th Graders for Cybersecurity Threats

With some hackers not yet out of their teens before they’re into cybercrime, it makes sense that there would be a camp for high school students to learn about online threats. Seventy-five teenagers in one Virginia county are getting that opportunity in the Marshall Academy’s third annual camp.

In her piece on, Kate Yanchulis outlines what the camp is like and what the students learn, including how to avoid hackers and handle cyberbullying. The following has been excerpted from Yanchulis’ piece and edited to fit our format.

Teenagers stared with wide eyes at their laptops … as Ryan Walters told them that more than 90 percent of their computers likely had been hacked or infected by a virus. Of the 75 campers gathered at McLean High School for a cyber security camp, only one girl could rest easy, said camp leader Walters. Her new laptop had never been powered up.

But [Walters] told students not to feel too bad about their security lapses. Walters, a former Air Force captain who worked on government defense systems, said at least 30 percent of the U.S. Defense Department’s network is considered compromised.

The realities of cyber security — on both a large and small scale — provide the backbone for the camp.

Marshall Academy offers [Fairfax county Virginia] students specialized technical education courses in several subject areas, including information technology. The $185 registration fee for the camp goes toward Marshall Academy’s cybersecurity club.

The camp divides students into beginner and advanced cohorts and teaches students the basic elements of cybersecurity as well as providing hands-on experience, Walters said. Walters, now a digital entrepreneur, founded Marshall Academy’s club three years ago with his son Jacob, then a freshman. Walters serves as a mentor for the club and lead instructor for the camp.

Charles Britt of SySTEMic Solutions [which provides support for the program], says, “With this camp, we want to offer exposure to the cybersecurity field to as many students as possible.”

Marshall Academy’s cybersecurity club counts 60 students as members. The club teaches students about cybersecurity and also takes part in annual cyber security competitions. The money from the camp goes toward competition fees [and the] club is a three-time national finalist in CyberPatriot competitions.

While the camp has proved a fertile ground for developing future cybersecurity team members, Walters said he just wants students to learn how to protect themselves online, whether from hacking or cyberbullying.

By ThreatMetrix Posted