Cyber Security Bootcamp Teaches "Other Side" of Hacking

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COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri hosted more than thirty of the nations top hackers Wednesday for a cyber security bootcamp. The camp runs until Friday, culminating in a "Capture the Flag" hacking competition. A $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to the winner.

The cyber security camp is the first of its kind in the Midwest. Its purpose is to teach students and professionals alike how to stop hackers. The camp is part of a network of camps run by the United States Cyber Challenge (USCC). Last year, three cyber security camps hosted 46 attendees nationally. This year, nearly 400 people have attended or will attend camps in California, Missouri, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland.

Growing camp attendance reflects the efforts of USCC to get people into the cyber security field, said Alex Levinson, a camp trainer this year who won the scholarship competition last year. "We want people with these kinds of skills to be good guys from the get go," he said. These camps give hackers an opportunity for formal education to use their hacking skills for good by stopping hacker attacks and cyber vandalism.

Highly trained professionals are brought in each day to teach a different lesson in cyber security. Those at the camp also engage in discussions about the ethics involved with hacking. Levinson said the camp helps teach the students how to be ethical and talented at the same time.

Attendees earned their entrance to the camp by winning hacking competitions across the country. Students and professionals came to the camp from San Diego, Seattle, New York, and Connecticut.

The USCC is also working on a pilot camp for high school students in an effort to instill an ethical approach to cyber security.  Camp organizer Rudy Pamintuan said organizers want to show kids "there are better careers in the good (side of hacking), than the bad."