A Summer Camp for the Next Generation of N.S.A. Agents

A Summer Camp for the Next Generation of N.S.A. Agents

n 2014, not long after the National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the N.S.A. was monitoring the phone calls and e-mail of American citizens, Congress passed the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, to “strengthen cybersecurity research and development, workforce development and education.” The Snowden leak had a demoralizing effect on the agency, which began to bleed personnel, exacerbating a problem that had been recognized since the end of George W. Bush’s Presidency: the federal government needed a more robust cybersecurity workforce. The Obama Administration made a push “to expand cyber education” beyond the federal government; special scholarships now exist for close to three hundred university programs. But the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act also spurred the N.S.A. to do something unexpected: it began sponsoring summer cybersecurity camps for children. “We realized we needed to teach the basic principles of cybersecurity earlier and earlier,” Judith Emmel, the agency’s director of state and local affairs, told me. “Everything touches cyber nowadays—this idea of cybersecurity and cyber hygiene and cyber ethics, making sure people understand right from wrong in the cyber world.”

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