Cyber camp arms students with crime-fighting tools

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, cyber-crime is now the fastest rising crime in America.

As a result of the growing cyber threat, there is a also a greater demand for professionals who work to prevent cyber-crime.

During the first week of August, 100 of these budding professionals attended Cyber Camp at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (JSRCC), where they participated in a range of classes covering cyber security topics, in addition to job fairs and discussions with professionals in the field.

The local camp was the largest of five week-long Cyber Camps across the country with the purpose of training future professionals in cyber security.

To be invited to the week-long Cyber Camp, college students had to participate in tests known as Cyber Quests held in April. The test is hosted by the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a program with a mission of “identifying and recruiting the next generation of cyber security professionals.” The students with the highest scores were invited to camps in states across the nation during the months of July and August.

Kristopher Cox, security information Officer at JSRCC, began laying the groundwork a year ago for Virginia to host a Cyber Camp.

“I was at a SANS [security training] conference last year and a colleague of mine asked if I wanted to be a mentor at one of the Cyber Camps,” said Cox. “I told him I wanted to start a Virginia camp.

“I really wanted JSRCC to be a part of this,” said Cox. “I knew how vested Virginia is in cyber-crime prevention and I knew it would bring a lot to the community. JSRCC wants to bring cyber-crime awareness to everyone.”

Rudy Pamintuan, a volunteer with the U.S. Cyber Challenge, works to create ways to bring students to the challenge.

“This opportunity will help them grow and find new career paths. Companies come to this camp during job fairs to hire people out of the U.S. Cyber Challenge. It is giving people a safe place to do what they do best, which is virtually attack things,” said Pamintuan.

The camp not only provides employment opportunities from some of the industry’s leading employers, but also provides an intensive curriculum with expert teachers in the field of cyber security.

Carrie Schaper, a graduate student at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, is a first-time camper at a Cyber Camp. “This camp compresses week-long courses in a day,” said Schaper. “We are developing an expertise through the intense curriculum and the knowledgeable teachers who work in the field.”

On Tuesday of the week-long camp, the students participated in an executive roundtable discussion and question-and-answer session with speakers that included Virginia Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey and several CEO’s of companies that offer cyber security, such as Ernest McDuffie of the National Institute for Cyber Security Education (NICE), David Tobey of the National Board of Information Security Examiners (NBISE), and Charlie Croom, VP of Cyber Solutions for Lockheed Martin.

The discussion was centered around the profession of cyber security, highlighting topics such as how to be trained, how to find jobs, and how to work with academia to develop curricula and standards for cyber-crime prevention education.

“This camp has given everyone here an opportunity for free, because SANS training is very expensive,” Schaper said. “We are receiving hands-on, practical knowledge by experts in the field which is hard to come by. This camp is giving us experience above and beyond what most people get.”

Doug Logan is a former camper and challenge winner from New York who participated this year as a teacher’s assistant at the Missouri camp during the week of July 25, and also at Virginia’s camp at JSRCC in August.

“I learned so much from first being a camper and being involved in the Cyber Camp,” said Logan. “It helped jump-start the amount of knowledge I learned. It is consolidated and detailed, and it is a great opportunity to be exposed to different types of security and give you a base knowledge in different areas.”

On Friday, the final day of the camp, attendees participated in a virtual “capture-the-flag” competition in which the team of five winning students received $1,000 scholarships.

“Many students don’t know that they have this opportunity,” said Cox. “The camp opens these students up to employers and also networking with others to gain valuable scholarships.

“Cyber-crime is rising so quickly,” added Cox. “If we are prepared, we have the power to catch people that are damaging others through cyber-crimes.

“By training these young people, we are being proactive and preventing these sorts of things from happening.”

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