Kids learn to beat computer hackers

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Has your computer ever had a virus? Or have some of your online accounts been stolen?

That’s the work of hackers out there on the web.

Now, some Widefield High School students are learning how to combat those hackers.

The kids are in a national after-school program called Cyber Patriot, where they learn a ton about computers. They work in teams, and will compete later in the year for scholarship money.

For some, the computer concepts these kids learn may seem like a foreign language, but they said that language is going to be vital in the future.

“They’re put into the hypothetical concept of some kind of technician and they are then apply any skills learned in this course,” said Widefield teacher Jason Nell.

What they learn are ways to stop everything a hacker can do.

“Malicious hacks, phishing, bolstering, any kind of protective capabilities of their own software to make sure that any corporate or private business is able to function normally,” said Nell.

“Imagine a door and you want to keep that person outside of your home. That’s pretty much what we’re doing. That can be anything from social engineering, hey what’s your password, looking over your shoulder, or actually using a program to actually find your password and get into your system,” said senior Anthony Baca.

It can be easier than you think for that to happen.

“Cybersecurity is a huge upcoming field, so we’re not only teaching these skills that are interesting for kids, that they want to learn about, but it’s a field that they can get a career path in almost right out of high school, because it’s such an important field that people need right now,” said Nell.

“Computers have always been changing, ever since they’ve been invented. There’s always something new. The field is never going to die. The world is completely intertwined with computers and I’ll never be out of a job, and it’s nice knowing there is always something new to learn and something new to do,” said Baca.

“I wouldn’t be this experienced if it weren’t for Cyber Patriot,” said senior Peter Hartmann.

The kids said there are simple ways to keep your computer secure. Changing your passwords regularly can help keep hackers out. They suggest you also have a security program on your computer to scan for any viruses.

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