Q&A: How the National Security Agency is building the next generation of cyberstars

EDTECH: What is your background and how did you get involved in GenCyber?

Greley: I have 15 years of classroom experience, including teaching US history and US government, and spent about 20 years coaching basketball. GenCyber ​​launched in 2014 as a pilot, and I started working with them in a support role in 2015.

I love teaching and wasn’t looking to leave the classroom, but I’ve grown to love cybersecurity education. Since 2018, I have been working at the National Cryptologic School of the NSA.

EDTECH: What is GenCyber’s goal?

Greley: GenCyber ​​is a federally supported program that provides grants to post-secondary institutions to host student, faculty, or student/teacher cybersecurity programs. There is a shortfall of about half a million cybersecurity jobs in the United States. Thus, this program aims to make better cybersecurity citizens and hopefully teach students interested in cybersecurity that there is a career out there for them.

One of the biggest advantages of cybersecurity is that it is multidisciplinary. This is for STEM students, but also for liberal arts students. Often, GenCyber ​​is the first point of contact for cybersecurity students and teachers.

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EDTECH: What is the camp format?

Greley: My favorite part of GenCyber ​​is that each program is different because it’s based on the local K-12 ecosystem. A GenCyber ​​program in Northern Virginia will be very different from a GenCyber ​​program in Iowa.

Every institution must have certain pillars. We demand that they base their program on six principles: confidentiality, integrity, availability, defense in depth, think like an adversary and keep it simple. We also require them to teach cyberethics and have at least one career unit.

EDTECH: How long are the camp sessions?

Greley: Historically, these were week-long summer camps. We now require facilities to also host pre-camp and post-camp events. We try to build engagement throughout the year, especially since we know that K-12 cybersecurity opportunities for students and teachers are still quite rare.

EDTECH: Why is it important to start cybersecurity education early?

Greley: In my opinion, it’s never too early, because students are getting younger and younger devices. Whenever students have access to devices, conversations about cybersecurity need to happen. Because we partner with institutions of higher learning and focus on college and career readiness, we focus more on middle and high school students.