Students Study Cyber Safety

MMS CyberPatriot Program

Marisa Hayase

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     As the new school year rolls in, Mililani Middle School, following in the high school’s footsteps, will be taking up another High Interest Program (HIP) for students interested in pursuing cybersecurity. With the Cyber Hui’s help, yellow track HIP advisors Laurie Sogawa, Daren Anzai, and VP Jacob Kardash launched the CyberPatriot program with the intent of emphasizing technology awareness amongst Hawaii’s youth.

     “We listened to what (the Cyber Hui) wanted as a program, and we were interested, and so we said that we would help coordinate. The NSA (National Security Agency) is the one that helps to get the (mentors) that understand – their jobs are cybersecurity, and so what they’re doing is they’re passing their knowledge on to the middle school students,” explained Sogawa.

     The middle school students, eager to begin the new program, participated in a Cyber Camp after school from July 24 to Aug. 4, where they learned from high school level Cyber Patriots, and those already in the field. “(I’m) definitely able to work with a team more, and I’m able to help assist others better,” expressed yellow track eighth grader Brian Valdez. The significance teamwork played in their success was evident. “We notice that if they weren’t able to work together, they had trouble with even the simple tasks. So, the ones that were able to work, they seemed to be faster at going through the tasks, and getting more points,” elaborated Anzai.

     The high school students who volunteered were grateful for the opportunity to teach other interested individuals the fundamentals of cybersecurity. “Well, I think it’s important because the prevalence of technology in the world today, and it’s becoming more and more important for everyone, no matter what you plan to do with your career or your life, because twenty years ago you would only need to know most of the stuff if you were a specialist in this. Now, most people need to know, because if you don’t know how to make your computer secure, you might lose your credit card information to someone, or you could lose your livelihood because someone stole your identity,” added Senior Evan Henderson, who helped out with the Cyber Camp. “It could be more of a life skill in this day and age, rather than a hobby or a specific career.”

     Although the year just started, it’s apparent that this program has become a remarkable part of the students’ lives. “Just learning new complex things about it, get the understandment [sic] about it, and then later achieving things about it,” stated yellow track eighth grader Rhandy Yoon, on his favorite part of the program. CyberPatriot has challenged the students’ abilities, but they were enthusiastic about learning practical skills, and to potentially pursue cybersecurity as a future career. “Since in today’s society we’re starting to use more technology, (the school) wanted to be able to help kids to pursue a path to help manage the technology and make it more safe,” expressed Valdez.

     These middle school students plan on starting preparations to compete with other schools in Hawaii. “It was a lot of basic things like, how to distinguish between a fake website versus the legitimate website, how to find stuff in the OS like where your IP address is, how to find that, things like that,” clarified Henderson.

     With their first qualifying competition coming up in the beginning of November, they have a lot to look forward to this school year.

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