Cyberwarrior Training Camp

By Edward Cone  |  Posted Friday, September 03, 2010 19:09 PM

by Tim Moran

Summer is traditionally camp time all around these United States. Camp Waziyatah. Camp Wicosuta. Camp Whatzituya.

Then there's Camp Hackintuit, as I call the cybersecurity boot camp held at Delaware's Wilmington University over the summer. The purpose is to train the next generation of cyberwarriors to defend the country's computer networks against attack. Carolyn Beeler--on one of our new favorite sites, npr.org--writes that the campers spend most of their time "looking for ways to break computers to find information [they're] not supposed to find." In other words, doing stuff that, were they not at this camp, would most likely get them arrested.

The GAO reports an increase of more than 400% in cyberattacks on federal agencies from 2006 to 2009. Says Beeler, "U.S. security officials say the country's defenses aren't keeping up."

Alan Paller, the director of research at the SANS Institute, an organization that specializes in computer security training, explains that technology alone is not enough to fend off cyberattackers: you need the right people: ". . . the attacks have changed so fast that the tools can't keep up, so it's the people skills that allow one nation to be able to protect its computers versus another nation."

Enter the cybersecurity boot camps.

Little formal training has been available in cybersecurity, so it's often self-taught in "ways that weren't strictly within the rules." The camp allows potential cyberwarriors to "develop their talent safely and legally," says Paller. Sounds like as much fun as an old fashioned game of "Capture the Flag," but it also reminds me a little of AC/DC playing Las Vegas. It's nice and all, but it doesn't have quite the same edge anymore.