Information, Technology & Consulting

A New Generation of Security Experts: The ISTS High School Workshop

Students standing in a group

The 2014 Institute for Security, Technology, and Society High School Summer Camp. IT Security Engineer Adam Goldstein (top, third from left) served as lead instructor.

Elizabeth Kelsey

Hackers continue to outsmart computer systems. As governments, businesses, and institutions contend with identity thieves, one Dartmouth program strives to train more security-savvy professionals from a very early age.

This fall, 16 high school students from throughout the Northeast are returning to classrooms with a better awareness of Cyber Security— thanks to a program offered by Dartmouth’s Institute for Security, Technology, and Society (ISTS). The institute’s free High School Summer Workshop was filled to maximum attendance when it took place July 7-11, 2014.

IT Security Engineer Adam Goldstein, who served as lead instructor for the workshop, says even though significant cyber security opportunities exist in both academia and the workplace, “the new and rapidly evolving field of study is not typically covered in the high school curriculum.” Goldstein adds that even if students don’t plan to pursue a career in security, by studying the topic, they can explore a different approach to learning by asking not only  “Does this work?” but “How does this work and keep from breaking.” Such thinking is especially useful in engineering and medical fields where individuals should consider potential failure scenarios when implementing any solution or technology.

Goldstein and fellow organizers ISTS Associate Director Bill Nisen and Program Manager Karen Page designed the high school workshop’s curriculum so students understand security from a hacker’s perspective. “In doing so,” Goldstein says, “they can explore the potential risks such actions may pose and how to implement appropriate defenses.”

Lecturers covered a broad overview of cyber security and focused on emerging threats and defensive computing strategies.  Guest speakers included Dartmouth CISO Steve Nyman, who discussed "Information Security in an Enterprise Environment"; NSA Computer Scientist Christen Shepherd, who outlined cyber security opportunities in the federal government; and Dartmouth System Administrator Joe Hill, who explained digital investigations. Students lunched with Chair of Computer Science Tom Cormen to discuss university-level computer science programs. In addition to scheduled events, organizers asked students to complete outreach projects, which are due in October.

Elisabeth Dubois, a senior from Derby, Vermont plans to study digital forensics in college and eventually work for the federal government. She learned about the Security, Technology, and Society workshop from an online search.

“Cyber security is needed with all the Internet use today,” Dubois says. “I enjoyed learning about the criminal aspect of cyber security and really enjoyed meeting other people who shared my same interest.” Dubois is currently working on a poster for her local library on safe computing.

The ISTS workshop, which has grown since its inception in 2007, directly addresses the need for K-12 cyber security education programs as outlined by The White House, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE3), the National Science Foundation through the Cyberwatch program, and other independent organizations. The Department of Defense funded programs in 2012-2014 through its information assurance scholarship program. Workshop organizers advertised the opportunity in the Valley News summer camp section, and in flyers sent to local high school science teachers, guidance counselors, and other school administrators.

See completed outreach projects from 2013 and 2012, which include a school newspaper article on cyber security and a Guide to Identifying Phishing.

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