Students get support pursuing cybersecurity careers, school
This summer, five of my colleagues and I volunteered our time to support the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program. CyberPatriot is a National Youth Cyber Education Program that aims to attract high school and middle school students to education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
My colleagues and I served as volunteer instructors for the 2020 Hawaii CyberCamp program, which was free to high school and middle school students, thanks to a sponsorship from the state of Hawaii, (ISC)2 Hawaii Chapter, and other organizations. We all feel passionate about supporting this program, which we wish had existed when we were attending school because it would have given us a five- to seven-year head start in our chosen fields. Within our group of six, four are security engineers, one is a principal information security consultant and one (me) works in managed services.
In a quick Google search of cybersecurity job openings in Hawaii, I found more than 100 positions ranging from entry to midlevel jobs such as security and systems analysts, engineers and specialists to advanced roles like information security officer. These positions were with private companies as well as the military.
During this two-week camp, we taught the students the basic skills needed to administer Windows and Ubuntu Linux systems as well as to provide basic data networking support.
Attending these classes also prepares the students for participation in Cyber Patriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition 2020-2021, which takes place during the school year. In this competition, they will be Cyber Security defenders, competing with their classmates at the end of each week in a Capture the Flag competition where points are scored for improving the security of an example system.
While many of us have supported this educational program in the past, this year was a bit different. With the advent of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, all classes were virtual this time, which had the unexpected benefit of quadrupling class sizes. Other benefits were the absence of a morning commute for all of us so there were more smiling faces each day, even if some were a few minutes late logging in. And instead of head nods and smiles in the real world, smiley emojis in the chat box indicated that our students were absorbing the material in the virtual one.
In our technologically advanced world, the importance of cybersecurity education to help prevent cyberattacks and mitigate risks continues to grow. My colleagues and I are happy to play a small role in helping local students find their passion for this profession.
CyberPatriot also offers free education for elementary school students to help increase their awareness of online safety and cybersecurity principles. As more young children are online especially these days, it’s important for them to learn these principles early on.
Lastly CyberPatriot’s newest program, CyberGenerations, is designed to provide our senior citizen community with the knowledge they need to protect themselves from cybercrimes when online. It covers password management, common internet threats, scams and fraud, and social media safety and etiquette. For more information, visit uscyberpatriot.org.
Evan Horton is senior manager of managed services at CBTS | Hawaiian Telcom. Reach him at email@example.com.