The Best Cybersecurity Camps for Kids in 2019
As we all know, the cybersecurity threat landscape is rapidly changing, and the need for highly-trained individuals is always growing. But despite this huge demand, there is actually a severe shortage of workers in the cybersecurity industry. In fact, a recent survey conducted by (ISC)2 reveals the following:
- The cybersecurity worker shortage is quite severe: in fact, it is estimated that the lack of trained professionals is almost at 4 million
- The Asia-Pacific region has the highest shortage of workers, with a need at well over 2 million cybersecurity specialists (a primary cause of this has been the recent passage of security-related legislations and mandates in those areas)
- North America is also facing a shortage, at close to 500,000 needed professionals
- The EMEA region needs at least 142,000 professionals
- The Latin American countries have a current demand for 136,000 skilled workers
- Overall, 63% of the respondents claimed that their IT security teams are understaffed
- 59% of the respondents also believed that business/corporation that they work for are not all prepared to handle a cyber-attack, primarily because of the lack of trained professionals
One interesting finding is that once an individual has secured a position in cybersecurity, they seem to be quite happy in their current roles. For example, well over 68% of the respondents felt either satisfied or very satisfied with their current cybersecurity job status.
But if demand is so high for cybersecurity workers and the workers who attain their jobs seem happy with being in the industry, why is there still this severe shortage? The following reasons were cited in this survey as well:
- 34% of the respondents claimed that it is unclear how to get a first job in cybersecurity
- 32% of the respondents felt that the needed skill sets are not communicated in a clear and succinct fashion
- 28% of the respondents felt that the cost of education for landing a first job in cybersecurity is quite high (especially in obtaining the needed certs)
Thanks to this skill shortage and the difficulties in entering the field, ere is now a huge movement in the industry to get people interested in the cybersecurity profession, especially teenagers.
One avenue that has worked well in this regard is the summer training camps that are offered by different organizations and companies. These camps are the focal point of this article.
The Best Training Camps
Here are some of the training camps that are geared specifically towards kids and teenagers:
1. Digital Media Academy Tech Camps
This Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking summer camp has been offered at various locations in the United States since 2002. It is a one-week intensive camp designed for kids between the ages of 12 and 17. The primary goal of this camp is to teach these kids how to think like a cyber-attacker so that they can land pentesting positions after they complete either high school or college. They learn the following skills:
- Cipher and algorithm creation
- How to encrypt and decrypt messages while they are in destination
- Network security
- Port scanning
- The concepts of ethical hacking
- The basics of the Python, Java, C# and Swift programming languages
- The fundamentals of cryptography
2. The iD Tech Camps
iD Tech offers one cybersecurity camp for the 13-17 age bracket. The emphasis is on cryptography, focusing on the following:
- Encryption and decryption
- How to create various programs to further protect the ciphertext while it is in transit
- Developing essential critical thinking skills which are needed for a job in cryptography
Students will also be taught the Python programming language.
3. The U.S. Cyber Challenge (USSC)
This is only a week-long training camp, but the training is very intense during this time period. The workshops are taught by some of the leading computer science professors across the United States and cybersecurity experts from within the industry. The focus of this training camp is penetration testing, teaching students about the following:
- Intrusion detection
- Red and Blue Teaming
- The tools that are available for conducting a deep-dive penetration test
- How to summarize the findings into a clear, concise report for the client
- How to launch a network forensics investigation and analyze the results from it
At the end of the one-week long training program, all of the students then participate in a “Capture the Flag” competition with prizes for the winners. Participants in this program can also take part in a job fair in which they can meet directly with the various cybersecurity sponsors of the USCC.
However, this program is not available for just anybody. Rather, the prospective student must first qualify in an online competition. After this, only a handful of participants are then invited to enroll in the one-week training camp. The camps are offered in the following U.S. cities:
- Blacksburg, VA
- Palos Hills, IL
- Dover, DE
- North Las Vegas, NV
In addition to being competitive, the price of this camp is much cheaper than the previous two, ranging from $200.00 to $650.00.
4. The Purdue University Cybersecurity Camp
This training camp is offered on-campus, and only for girls in grades 9 to 12. The foundational courses for this camp are:
- Computer programming
- The methodologies and concepts of cybersecurity
- Network security
From within these three courses, the following electives can be selected in order to further augment their training:
- Cryptography and steganography
- Digital forensics
- Mobile forensics
- Phishing attacks
- The psychology and mindset of the cyber-attacker
It should be noted that this training camp is only open during the summer, from June 17th through the 22nd.
Probably the best part of this program is that it is completely free for the student to attend, as all of the costs are covered by the GenCyber grant, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency (NSA). However, students are required to stay on campus.
5. The Georgia Southern’s Center for Applied Cyber Education Camp
This training camp is offered to both boys and girls in grades 9 through 12. It also offered in the summer only, from July 16th through the 20th. Throughout this week-long camp, the following subject matter is explored:
- Cyber ethics
- The principles of cybersecurity
- Virtual machines
- Windows OS security policies and tools
- Windows file protection
- Windows auditing and monitoring
- A review of Windows Server 2008
- The fundamentals of GUI security
- Introduction to command-line structures and security
- Advanced Ubuntu security
However, prospective students must have completed a course in algebra and computer science prior to enrollment. The camp costs $250.00 for each student to attend this program; all other costs are covered by Georgia Southern University.
Conclusion: How to Choose the Best Cybersecurity Training Camp
This article has examined just some of the top training camps for cybersecurity. Obviously, there are many, many others that are offered, so the trick is finding the right one to keep your kid or teenager engaged for the long term.
Context is also important. It is one thing to attend a camp to get training in cybersecurity, but the best ones will be those that will also teach you how to think and have the mindset of a real-world attacker. Even if your kid chooses not to go into the cybersecurity field, it will give them a valuable look at what it takes to stay safe in today’s digital world.
- 2019 Best Cyber Security Bootcamps, Switchup
- Cyber Camps – US, USCC
- Purdue University Cybersecurity Camp, Purdue University
- Cyber Camp, Georgia Southern University
- GenCyber, Dartmouth College
- GenCyber – Inspiring the Next Generation of Cyber Stars, Boise State University
- Coding & Artificial Intelligence Summer Camps, Digital Media Academy
- Cybersecurity faces a worldwide shortage of almost 3 million staff, Betanews