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Carnegie Cyber Kids Academy. World’s Most Prestigious Cyber Defense Training Facility

Welcome to the Carnegie Cyber Academy, the most prestigious cyber defense training facility in the world. My name is Commander Omni. I am the school’s dean. Carnegie Cyber Kids Academy. World’s Most Prestigious Cyber Defense Training Facility


Carnegie Cadets: The MySecureCyberspace Game
 

At the Academy, we train our cadets in online safety so that they can protect themselves and others from the attacks of malicious Cyber Villains. The Internet is a growing part of our daily lives. It is my hope that future generations will be able to continue exploring Cyberspace in a safe and secure way.

Carnegie Cadets: The MySecureCyberspace Game is an interactive game designed for fourth and fifth graders that teaches Internet safety and computer security in a safe, fun setting. It is a Flash-based game compatible with Windows 2000/XP and Mac OSX (10.5). Created by Carnegie Mellon’s Information Networking Institute and Carnegie Mellon CyLab in 2007, the game is provided as a free download from this website.

About MySecureCyberspace

Carnegie Mellon created the MySecureCyberspace initiative as a response to the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, which calls for every American to help create a safe Internet by securing his or her own corner of cyberspace.

The MySecureCyberspace website and game give everyday citizens the tools and knowledge they need to do this.

About the Game

Players join the Cyber Defense training program at the Carnegie Cyber Academy, where training missions teach different Internet topics. The missions cover fundamental skills such as how to spot spam, how to keep personal information private, and how to identify website traps, such as dangerous pop-up windows, forms that ask for personal information, and Web pages that show inappropriate content.

Through the game, players learn how to become safe, educated Cybercitizens before entering the Internet on their own. Read our news coverage and testimonials.

Click Here To Play The Game.

About The Website

This website has extra stories, background information and mini games to let fans enjoy the Carnegie Cyber Academy and its characters beyond the game. Also, it provides a download of the game, as well as instructions for getting started with the game and a teacher’s guide for using the game in the classroom.

To download your own free copy of Carnegie Cadets: The MySecureCyberspace Game, check out our Getting Started guide.

Updated: 6-24-2022

The NSA Is Funding Summer Camps To Teach Kids To Be Cyber Pros

A program started in the wake of the Edward Snowden scandal has steadily expanded.

Carnegie Cyber Kids Academy. World's Most Prestigious Cyber Defense Training Facility

On the second day of summer camp, Ashley Wilsondebriano made a kill switch. The 17-year-old high school student maneuvered a virtual blue button labeled “emergency stop” from a menu bar to nestle inside a gray tab in the middle of her screen. A tap on her laptop’s space bar, and her drone would drop from the air.

When she wasn’t sending the drone plummeting to the ground, Wilsondebriano and a partner were making it “dance” to a hit electronica track from music producer Skrillex. “When the beat dropped, we coded the drone to flash lights and move in a circle,” says Wilsondebriano.

“I wanted a robot at a rave.” Her team’s laptop screen froze during the drone freestyle competition, interrupting its moves, but the judges awarded them victory anyway, for their stylish coding and creative vision.

Carnegie Cyber Kids Academy. World's Most Prestigious Cyber Defense Training Facility

This is summer camp as imagined by the National Security Agency. The secretive agency doesn’t run the camps directly, instead providing funding and setting guidelines, with independent institutions writing their own curricula.

The program, GenCyber, started with an eight-camp pilot in 2014, a year after the NSA’s reputation was severely tarnished by former contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about its surveillance techniques. It now consists of 102 camps across 38 states, with at least 140 camps expected in 45 states next year. Each runs five days, with additional sessions before and after.

To date, more than 20,000 teenagers have attended. The Biden administration has said the US has a deficit of about 500,000 cybersecurity workers. The aim is to ignite enough interest in the field to begin reducing that, says the NSA’s Ashley Greeley, a former Indiana History Teacher of the Year who now runs GenCyber.

Part of the program’s mission was to increase female and minority participation in the field, but the initial attendees were overwhelmingly male. GenCyber now offers boys and girls separate programs, resulting in better gender balance.

For every seven participants who’ve graduated from high school, three go on to take at least one cybersecurity course at the college level, according to a 2020 evaluation of 7,160 over-18s who participated in the first five years of the program.

A few former GenCyber attendees have gone on to work at the NSA, US Cyber Command, and the US Air Force, and many more have gone into the commercial cybersecurity industry.

Carnegie Cyber Kids Academy. World's Most Prestigious Cyber Defense Training Facility

Coding and computer camps aren’t new—everyone from tech giants to fashion models has started such summer programs, hoping to turn young minds toward Silicon Valley.

The NSA’s version includes cryptography, lessons on “thinking like an adversary,” mock trials of real-life computer security cases, as well as practical instruction in monitoring network traffic, making your own firewall, and password security.

The camps also seek to help young people navigate cyberstalking and cyberbullying and knit cybersecurity considerations into daily life. The summer camp teachers discuss cyber ethics daily, but they make little mention of the NSA’s own controversial history.

The camp Wilsondebriano attended took place at the Citadel, a senior military college in Charleston, S.C., recognized for its cybersecurity excellence.

With her purple hair, long nails, and outsize pink Hello Kitty phone case, she stood out on a campus where clean-cut cadets drill in the sweltering heat on a manicured lawn dotted with displays of tanks, fighter jets, and the odd ornamental torpedo.

She aspires to a career in fashion, but she’s also had a computer since she was 4 and says she’s having “an amazing time” at GenCyber.

Carnegie Cyber Kids Academy. World's Most Prestigious Cyber Defense Training Facility

Some other campers make it clear that this isn’t how they imagined an ideal summer. One 14-year-old says she repeatedly told her father she didn’t want to go, but he signed her up anyway. She’d rather be surfing or playing pickleball.

Another describes her attendance as voluntary but adds it wasn’t her idea: “Honestly, my mom suggested it and I wanted to be polite to her,” she says.

The teachers work hard to hold everyone’s attention in a class where ages range from 12 to 17. Snacks are available all day long, and lectures last only 10 minutes. On the advice of a middle school teacher who observed as an adviser, quieter, less engaged students are paired with more confident ones for small group work. “We’re not even trained to teach adults, we’re trained to do research.

And now we’re teaching kids,” says Michael Verdicchio, a computer science professor teaching the coding classes. He tries to draw the kids in by showing them a survey of best jobs that ranked software developer at the top and explaining that good software is needed to help run his mother’s pacemaker.

Carnegie Cyber Kids Academy. World's Most Prestigious Cyber Defense Training Facility

Paul Nakasone, the four-star army general who leads the NSA, said in a statement that if the agency can encourage young people to “pursue a fulfilling career in cyberspace, whether in the private sector or government, they benefit and so does the nation.”

The NSA won’t say how much money it gives to fund the free camps. But the National Science Foundation, which co-funds the project, has given more than $3 million some years.

The Citadel says GenCyber awarded it a $130,000 grant to run two courses this summer, with additional sessions before and after—equivalent to more than $3,500 for each attendee.

Kyla Guru, 20, says the GenCyber camp she attended in Indiana five years ago “transformed my life.” She started her own nonprofit in 2016 to integrate cybersecurity courses into school learning and hopes to work at US Cyber Command after graduating from Stanford.

Guru says she got to have a discussion with General Nakasone at a recent event at the university. They talked about how important it is for girls to learn about cybersecurity by the time they’re 13 if they are ever to pursue a career in the field. “You have to hear the words early,” she says.

 

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