This is not your typical summer camp.
San Diego-based Internet security company ESET is hosting “Cyber Boot Camp” this week. It’s an intensive course about computer network security for high school students.
In January, 33 teams started competing in the annual San Diego Mayor’s Cup, a competition for students interested in cyber security. Westview High School was named the winner in March, and the eight team members from the school earned spots in the camp.
Now, they’re spending a week of their summer vacation learning how to defend computer systems.
“One of the things that we can teach is how to think like a hacker, like an attacker,” said Stephen Cobb with ESET. “We actually have systems where they can pretend to be the bad guy and break into a computer system.”
Despite their new skills, Cobb said he doesn’t worry about the kids becoming hackers themselves.
Earlier in the week, a United States magistrate talked to the students about the consequences of hacking.
Another reason to wear a “white hat” instead of a “black hat,” in hackers’ terms, is the high demand for jobs in both the government and the private sector.
“Right now, there’s a shortage of people with these kinds of skills to go to work protecting, whether it’s in the military or whether it’s in the intelligence community or things like the utility systems and the banking systems,” Cobb said.