Schools can offer valuable hands-on tech experience that will benefit students in both college and career by training them in white-hat hacking skills, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12.
As an example, Baltimore's Parkville High School teaches students to not only set up networks, but also hack into them, helping them to better analyze and prevent attacks, and Chicago 17-year-old Jack Cable's hacking of the Air Force in a bug bounty competition provides further evidence of the potential talent sitting in the nation's classrooms.
Hacking programs provide one more opportunity for schools to take learning beyond textbooks and further provoke interest in STEM careers, EdTech reports.
On top of giving students valuable first-hand experience with marketable career skills, training students to be white-hat hackers can benefit schools in their own cybersecurity efforts. Schools and districts are among the most popular targets of hackers, with ransomware attacks among the most prevalent — and most lucrative.
The unfortunate truth is that end users are ultimately the weakest point in any organization's cyber-defenses. By training students how to hack for good, schools are essentially adding an extra layer of security, as students will become more conscious of their actions online. To further protect themselves, they can take a page from University of Dayton CIO Tom Skill's playbook and institute measures like phishing tests while making sure two-factor authentication is available on all platforms where vital information might be stored.
Of course, while hacking programs sound great, administrators in many districts may lack the funding or local talent to implement them. This could require them to expand partnerships in the community and with corporations, in addition to exploring the use of videoconferencing tech to connect interested students with skilled teachers virtually.