Cybersecurity | News
Girls Go to CyberCamp This Week in North Texas
Hoping to encourage more girls to become interested in careers in cybersecurity and related IT fields, the Air Force Association (AFA) is conducting a pilot CyberCamp for female high school students this week at Texas Woman's University in Denton, TX.
This is the first all-female CyberCamp the AFA has held, but the third in all. The goal of this particular session, according to Brig. Gen. Bernard K. Skoch of the AFA, is to encourage more women to get involved in STEM-related studies and eventually in careers in information technology.
In a national competition the association conducts each year tasking high school and middle school students to manage a virtual network for a make-believe small company, typically less than 20 percent of participants are girls. Skoch would like to see that change.
Skoch met Texas Woman's Professor Jian Zhang at a workshop last year and the two agreed to collaborate on the summer camp at her university, hoping to interest students from North Texas in cybersecurity. Skoch said he believes a small university campus like Texas Woman's would be the perfect setting to draw more girls to participate.
Over the next week, the more than 50 girls registered for the camp will learn about cyber ethics, online safety and cyber defense. Throughout the week they will work in computer simulations of networks with security breaches and weaknesses that they must detect and correct.
The camp is part of the Air Force Association's larger CyberPatriot program created to inspire students to encourage students to consider careers in cybersecurity.
The heart of the CyberPatriot program is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, in which student teams are given a set of virtual machines that represent operating systems and asked to find cybersecurity vulnerabilities and harden the systems while maintaining critical services.
The competition culminates in the final top teams earning all-expense trips to Washington, D.C., for the final round of competition. That, Skoch said, is where he'd like to see more female high school students in the future.
Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.