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Learning computer security with mimes and Raspberry Pi

Students in the 2015 UB GenCyber camp watch intently as mime Justin Silvus, a rising senior theatre and dance major, acts out computer security concepts like phishing and firewalls. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

By KEVIN MANNE

Published July 16, 2015

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Students get the lowdown on cybersecurity at UB's GenCyber Camp.

During the 2015 UB GenCyber Camp, teenagers with a penchant for technology learned to create websites, build a computer network and defend it from a simulated attack.

GenCyber, a free, weeklong cybersecurity summer camp for children held last week at UB, introduced bright young students aged 13-17 to cybersecurity as a future career option.

“As businesses continue to struggle with how to handle information security threats, there is an urgent need for professionals with the technical and managerial skills to protect national and business interests,” says David Murray, associate professor of management science and systems in the School of Management.

Each day, a capacity crowd of 36 students from 24 area schools participated in hands-on activities to learn about a wide range of cybersecurity topics.

The campers heard presentations from industry professionals, built a computer network using credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi computers and defended the network from a simulated cyberattack.

Mimes Suoyang Li and Justin Silvus with Vincent O'Neill, UB associate professor of theatre and dance, who trained them. O'Neill himself trained as a mime artist at Marcel Marceu’s International Mime School in Paris. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

They even learned about firewalls, denial-of-service attacks, phishing and other computer security concepts from mimes.

Students who successfully completed the camp received a certificate of achievement at an awards presentation on July 10.

GenCyber was presented by the School of Management, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Center of Excellence in Information Systems Assurance Research and Education (CEISARE), with sponsorship from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Security Agency (NSA) and Time Warner Cable.

UB’s camp was one of 43 GenCyber camps being held across the country funded by the NSA and NSF this year. The organizations aim to have 200 camps nationwide by 2020.