Middle school students to become cybersleuths for a day

An encrypted message that middle school students will use to learn about cybersecurity.

Local middle school students will have to decipher this encrypted message to help solve a mystery and learn about cybersecurity at the Buffalo Museum of Science on Oct. 29.

Program promotes digital literacy and Internet safety during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

By Kevin Manne

Release Date: October 10, 2014 This content is archived.

David Murray.
“We want to help them understand issues like why a strong password is important and how deleted information can be recovered. ”
David Murray, associate professor of management science and systems
University at Buffalo School of Management

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A piece of a cybersecurity display has gone missing and it’s up to a group of 50 students in grades five through eight grade to track it down using digital clues.

This will be the setting as the University at Buffalo School of Management partners with Time Warner Cable to educate kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Buffalo about computer security and career opportunities in the field. The workshop will take place at 4 p.m. on Oct. 29 at the Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Pkwy., Buffalo.

Students will work through a series of four exercises that will test their knowledge of password security, digital forensics, encryption and online safety. They’ll decode a password, decrypt a secret message, recover deleted information and match up photos of people with their online pseudonyms — all to solve the mystery of the missing exhibit piece.

“We want to help them understand issues like why a strong password is important and how deleted information can be recovered,” says David Murray, associate professor of management science and systems in the UB School of Management. “They’ll be better prepared as they grow up online and will see how great the demand is for careers in this field.”

Eight UB student volunteers, three from the School of Management and five from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, will help run the workshop.

The event is one of 25 cybersecurity workshops that Murray will present at middle schools throughout the Buffalo Niagara region as part of the partnership between the UB School of Management and Time Warner Cable. The series is funded by Connect a Million Minds, Time Warner Cable’s five-year, $100 million cash and in-kind philanthropic initiative to connect young minds to science, technology, engineering and math.   

Cyberthreats are on the rise, creating an urgent need for professionals with the technical and managerial skills to protect national and business interests, according to Murray. One way Murray hopes to help meet this escalating demand is by introducing bright young students, especially girls and minorities, to the subject of information assurance through the workshops, and encouraging them to pursue career opportunities in the burgeoning field.

The workshop draws upon the expertise in the School of Management’s MBA option in information assurance, its Sleiman Information Assurance Laboratory and the UB Center of Excellence in Information Systems Assurance Research and Education, which is recognized as a national center of excellence by the National Security Agency.

Time Warner Cable previously funded the UB School of Management’s Western New York Cybersecurity Workshop Outreach program, which ran from 2009-12. That program was piloted with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded to H.R. Rao, professor of management science and systems, as well as two other UB professors, Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen, professor of geography, and Shambhu Upadhyaya, professor of computer science and engineering.

Since 2004, the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, has designated October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cybersecurity incident.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News and World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.

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