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ESET Cyber Boot Camp for tomorrow's defense

Cyber-attacks are without borders and ESET, a cyber-security firm with its North American headquarters in San Diego, is working with the Mayors’ Cyber Cup to meet this challenge. High school student winners from the San Diego greater area are invited to attend ESET Cyber Boot Camp at the ESET headquarters in San Diego held June 16-20.

ESET Cyber Boot Camp champs
Laura Scalley & Victoria Wagner Ross

I had an opportunity to attend and speak with Stephen Cobb, Senior Security Researcher for ESET and co-leader of the program for the winning Cyber Cup students.

He cited the dramatic shortage around the world in cyber security positions. According to the World Economic forum, the U.S. rank is 48 in math and science. This transfers to a low STEM index rating (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

The cyber criminals run cyber-attacks as a business. Cobb stated: “For evidence that cyber criminals approach this as a business, you need look no further than those phishing emails that show up in your email inbox, trying to trick you into disclosing information. The subject line and content of these messages are A/B tested -- like any good email marketing campaign -- to optimize the open and click-through rates.”

During the Cyber Boot Camp interviews with security experts and winning teens, I was able to observe the challenges of this extraordinary week long training experience. The three winning teams consisting each of eight members are first place, Canyon Crest Academy, second place, Westview High School (the 2013 Cyber Cup winners) and third place to Mira Mesa High School. The finals were held at UCSD in March.

Security experts from ESET work with the students throughout the five day camp. Each student works at their assigned computer and learns to develop the necessary procedures for online security defense.

Learning how to build defense for cyber systems requires that the students hack into an ESET training computer system. This assignment gives them hands on experience of what walls are established to defend a computer system. No one has broken through the security training system at ESET.

Throughout the week, the students meet with security experts and view presentations. Brendan McHugh, DDA and Project Director of San Diego District Attorney’s Office, walked the students through a video presentation of an actual theft of iPads from schools within the greater San Diego area this past Christmas holiday school break.

McHugh’s team is able to use “ping-pac-trace” for a physical tracking of a cell phone. Once the phone ID is established, the location, date and time can be recorded. Through this technology the perpetrators of the iPad thefts in schools were successfully prosecuted.

One of the students asked McHugh how many cases he handles with his team. At this time he has twenty cases on his desk which is at maximum level to work efficiently. Some cases involve other countries and there are situations when he can work with the law enforcement, such as Ireland. Cases may involve areas like Ukraine but due to the unrest in the country it is not possible for their legal enforcement groups to take on this type of investigation.

The students were also invited to the Federal Court to speak with Judge Mitchel Demblin a United States Magistrate for Southern California since 2011. Prior to his federal appointment, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Diego and served as cybercrime coordinator.

Tomorrow’s article will be Q&A with Liz Fraumann, Executive Director of Securing Our eCity and the role of the Foundation she established with ESET in 2009 plus others from the ESET security team and the winners in the Cyber Boot camp.

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