Students Begin Young Learning Cyber Safety and Security

By Moody, Candace | The Florida Times Union, March 15, 2017 | Go to article overview

Students Begin Young Learning Cyber Safety and Security


Moody, Candace, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Candace Moody

Data security is one of the top priorities for both business and government in the 21st century.

Companies struggle to stay a step ahead of hackers who can disrupt sites and steal consumer information, and bring down a company's reputation. In Florida, an estimated 41,397 people are employed in cybersecurity roles, and employers posted more than 15,000 job openings in 2016.

Cyber Patriots, a program sponsored by the Air Force Association, is designed to help students learn the basics of cyber security. The program, offered in schools and camps, has curricula for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Coaches help students develop an interest in technology careers while doing fun, hands-on exercises that are relevant and applicable to everyday life. Students learn the importance of cyber safety and how to protect their personal devices and information from outside threats.

I visited a Cyber Patriots program at Ridgeview High in Clay County. About 20 students participated in the after-school program for about an hour a week. They worked on problems that simulated both individual desktops and networks. The students worked in small teams to learn to install updates and patches, detect and remove malware and viruses, install firewalls, and back up data. Each year, the program culminates in a National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, where middle and high school students are put in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. In the rounds of competition,

Teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services.

The Ridgeview students acquitted themselves well in the competition, coming in around the middle of the pack in their divisions. …

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