Security was the word at Olathe Northwest High School from July 24 to July 28. The CyberPatriots Club hosted an Air Force Association Cyber Camp for area student entering grades 6 to 12 this fall. CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air Force Association to educated and inspire students toward STEM disciplines, including the cybersecurity field.
During the week-long camp, 70 students from across the metro were guided by science teacher, Gina Riegert, and 12 Northwest CyberPatriot student leaders. While making new friends and having fun, the campers participated in a variety of hands-on activities related to the world of cybersecurity.
They learned about the necessity of personal and global cyber-safety and protection, cyber-ethics, the international security problem of cyber-crime, and career opportunities in the cybersecurity field. (In 2016, there were 1 million cybersecurity job openings in the United States, an increase of 74 percent in the past five years).
“Globally, we are very vulnerable because of our love for technology. We spend a lot of money on it,” Riegert said. “Unfortunately, many companies still forgo their own investment in making sure it is secure. We are reactive, not proactive, about cybersecurity — and we have much catching up to do.”
On July 28, the newly trained cyber-sleuths used their cyber-detective skills during a day-long Youth Cyber Defense Competition. Playing the role of newly hired IT professionals, the student teams were tasked with unraveling cybersecurity vulnerabilities in simulated network IT environments, while also maintaining critical company systems and services.
On the edges of their seats solving the cyber-whodunit mysteries, the students took their responsibilities seriously.
“Every day, every minute, any second your computer can get attacked,” said Rahi Dasgupta, 12, taking a very brief break from her task at hand.
Jaden Nelson, 12, agreed.
“Before this week, I didn’t know people’s computers got hacked so much and how important it is to protect yourself.”