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Participants learn computer safety during weeklong camp

Participants learn computer safety during weeklong camp

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Concepts such as malware, phishing and identity theft are getting intense attention this week at North Augusta Middle School, although the school year came to a close for students last week.

Instructors from Fort Gordon are leading an Air Force Association CyberCamp, a five-day event offering insight for young people on the basics – and a little beyond – of information technology and computer safety. Emphasis is on “fun, hands-on learning of cybersecurity principles that are relevant and applicable to everyday life,” as described in promotional material.

Helping lead the program is Lt. Col. Kendra Green, who is based at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, and has a 13-year-old son, Patrick, preparing for eighth grade at North Augusta Middle School.

“The goal for the week … is to actually get them to understand what cyber security is, and … at least follow on and take this into their everyday lifestyle,” Green said. “Hopefully they will follow this through and join the CyberPatriot team at their local school.”

The program, she said, is rooted in the Air Force Association, and has at least 5,000 sessions held around the country each summer. This is the season’s first camp in the CSRA, with 35 students on board – 28 males and seven females.

“It teaches you how to be safer and how to lessen your chance of getting hacked,” said camper Brandon O’Shea, who is preparing for eighth grade at Paul Knox Middle School.

Fort Gordon, the current home base for most of the instructors, is also home of the U.S. Cyber Center of Excellence, with some of the country’s top minds and technology relating to computer security.

Green, in describing the organization of this week’s camp, said, “The Air Force Association … does really all the work. The program is amazing. They have everything laid out.”

“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. Teams compete for the top placement within their state and region, and the top teams in the nation earn allexpenses paid trips to Baltimore, Maryland, for the National Finals Competition where they can earn national recognition and scholarship money.“

Plans are for this week’s camp to culminate in a team competition simulating the types of threats that industry professionals face. Details on the national program are at uscyberpatriot.org.