There is a critical nationwide shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Virginia is a leader in cybersecurity, both in educating an up-and-coming workforce to fill the shortage and in hiring them. In fact, Virginia has more cybersecurity companies per capita than any other state.
Professors Edna Reid (above) and Kathleen Moore, together with JMU intelligence analysis students, leveraged funding from the Virginia Secretary of Technology's office and the Virginia Department of Education to create a cyber hygiene bootcamp for K-12 teachers.
Most cybersecurity bootcamps take place during the summer and focus on developing technical skills. This high-intensity camp focused on developing lifelong skills to help people protect themselves from being hacked.
Teachers received hands-on experience and participated in group challenges at a security operations center. The course enhanced awareness and understanding of cyber hygiene, provided an overview of cyber intelligence and emphasized the need to analyze cyber adversaries as real people.
The camp yielded a web repository that will house cybersecurity lesson plans for teachers to access at any time. Additionally, the "train the trainer" approach will impact many more students by providing teachers with the knowledge and tools to teach cybersecurity in Virginia.
The goal of the camp is to spread an awareness of the need to integrate cyber hygiene into all areas of the curriculum, not just classes focused on technology. Reid anticipates that the program will help families and communities gain a better understanding of cybersecurity as students share what they learn outside of the classroom, with the hope that cyber hygiene becomes a routine part of daily life.
Photographs by Elise Trissel