2023 GenCyber Residential Combination Camp at Tennessee Tech

GenCyber Student Group Picture

(contact cerocmedia@tntech.edu, (931) 372-3519 for more information)
June 30, 2023

COOKEVILLE, TN – The Cybersecurity Education, Research, and Outreach Center (CEROC) at Tennessee Tech University just completed its 7th annual GenCyber residential cybersecurity camp.  This year’s combination camp hosted 22 students from high schools across the state and 10 teachers.  During the week, student campers participated in many cybersecurity activities concluding with a final project presentation on a timely cybersecurity topic.  Teacher participants in the camp completed a ten-hour pre-professional development program and a three-day camp integration program developing new cybersecurity classroom exercises that were tested during the camp.

What is GenCyber?

GenCyber (https://gen-cyber.com/) is a joint National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Security Agency (NSA) program providing funding for cybersecurity summer camps and yearlong activities offered to middle and high school students, where they are exposed to real technology and situations found in the workplace through activities produced and run by students at Tennessee Technological University. Students form bonds with groups and are taught valuable skills to jump-start their cyber education. These campers are mentored by current computer science students at Tennessee Tech. The camp also brings in both government and industry professionals from the field to give advice, tell stories, and share their insights.

Student Feedback

CEROC has been running this program since 2016, and every year we strive to make it as beneficial as possible. Our staff has been working diligently for more than two months to research, produce, and run each activity students do. As students worked through their activities, we asked them for feedback so we can make this program even better next year. Below are just a few of the anonymous responses from the students.

2023 GenCyber Camp – Students Working on Project

“I learned more about cyber security in this camp than in all of the previous length of my life combined. GenCyber utilized excellent digital, hardware, and human resources to teach not only the basics of cybersecurity but also new avenues to learn more and many of the opportunities that are attainable through cyber security.”

“I am used to learning by myself, and having an actual human being explain the concepts to me was very helpful. The way the counselors behaved was also extremely helpful in maintaining a light and friendly mood throughout the camp.”

“I loved the activities; some were hands-on, a LOT of thinking and problem-solving, and having a team to help was very helpful and made me feel less alone in doing the projects.”

2023 GenCyber Residential Camp – Students & Counselors

GenCyber at Tennessee Tech Future Plan

From this successful summer camp, GenCyber will go on the road for the next year with the Tennessee GenCyber on Wheels (TGoW) program.  This program will use the Tennessee Tech STEMmobile and take the GenCyber experience to the door of high schools across the state, providing mobile versions of the cyber exercises used during the on-site camp.  “TGoW is our opportunity to reach more high school students with our cybersecurity offerings than ever before.  We hope to reach over 4,000 across the state over the next 16 months”, says CEROC’s Associate Director for Workforce Development, Eric Brown.  “During these cyber road shows, not only will students participate in some incredible cyber activities, district teachers and school counselors will be offered professional development opportunities.  CEROC will also be offering mini-grants in support of student participation in the National Cyber League Capture the Flag competition and startup support for new Cyber Patriot programs.

About the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center

CEROC at Tennessee Tech University, established in 2016, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on K-20 cybersecurity education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry.  CEROC is an NSA-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (NCAE-C CD) and host of the first and largest CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program in the State of Tennessee as well as the Department of Defense Cybersecurity Scholarship Program (CySP).  CEROC is also the home of the Golden Eagle Cyber Certificate program providing cybersecurity dual enrollment opportunities to participating Tennessee K12 school districts.  More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

(contact ceroc@tntech.edu, (931) 372-3519 for more information)
October 27, 2021

COOKEVILLE, TN – Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2021 Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.  Americans are spending more time online than ever before using more devices that ever before. As more people online services for shopping, banking, financial management, and socializing, they also expose themselves to increased cyber risks. Online threats and cyber-attacks threaten the future of our national and economic security. Because cybersecurity is important to our Nation, the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC) at Tennessee Tech University has joined with the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency to raise cybersecurity awareness across the Nation during Cybersecurity Awareness Month this October.  CEROC is a 2021 Champion of the CSAM program.

Now in its 18th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month focused on the tenants of Be Cyber Smart, Fight the Phish, Explore.Experience.Share., and Cybersecurity First.  The campaign stresses that cybersecurity is not simply a government and industry concern; cybersecurity starts at home.  This fact is especially true with a portion of the workforce permanently moving to “work at home” models.  Cybersecurity awareness begins from the moment that we pick up our smartphone and continues with every computer and kiosk that we use during the day to work, shop, eat, and play.

To celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month, CEROC is sharing cybersecurity best practices throughout its social media, printed and broadcasted media, and other networks to encourage everyone to consider the role the individual plays in keeping our nation cyber aware and ready.  As a new addition to the center’s cyber awareness efforts, CEROC sponsored the “Adopt a Kin” campaign encouraging computer science students at Tennessee Tech to reach out to their parents and grandparents and have conversations (maybe even training times) about best cybersecurity practices.  These conversations can address social media uses, phishing awareness, or fraudulent calls seeking to scam the elderly via social engineering.

Consider some of the following cyber facts:

  • The average total cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million and took an average of 280 days to identify and contain.
  • The use of new breach techniques has boomed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 35% of breaches having leveraged new techniques in 2020.
  • 88% of data breaches are caused by human error.
  • 61% of data breaches used compromised credentials.
  • 56% of IT leaders believe their employees have picked up bad cybersecurity behaviors since working from home.
  • More than 99.9% of Microsoft enterprise accounts that get invaded by attackers didn’t use multi-factor authentication.
  • Phishing attacks account for more than 80% of reported security incidents.
  • 80% of companies say they have a hard time finding and hiring security talent.
  • By 2029, the cybersecurity job market is set to grow by 31%.
  • Global spending on cybersecurity is set to cross $60 billion in 2021.
  • The IoT (Internet of Things) market is anticipated to reach $1.1 trillion by 2026.

What can you do??

  • Enable stronger authentication. Always enable stronger authentication for an extra layer of security beyond the password that is available on most major email, social media and financial accounts. Stronger authentication (e.g., multi-factor authentication that can use a one-time code texted to a mobile device) helps verify that a user has authorized access to an online account. For more information about authentication, visit the Lock Down Your Login Campaign at www.lockdownyourlogin.org.
  • Make your passwords long & strong. Use complex passwords with a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters. Use unique passwords for different accounts. Change your passwords regularly, especially if you believe they have been compromised.
  • Keep a clean machine. Update the security software, operating system, and web browser on all of your Internet-connected devices. Keeping your security software up to date will prevent attackers from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email and online posts are often the way cyber criminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious (even if you know the source), delete it.
  • Share with care. Limit the amount of personal information you share online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
  • Secure your Wi-Fi network. Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices. Secure your Wi-Fi network, and your digital devices, by changing the factory-set default password and username.

Learn more about Cybersecurity Awareness Month and how to protect yourself from threats online at https://staysafeonline.org/cybersecurity-awareness-month/.   Cyber safety resources can be found on the STC website at https://www.dhs.gov/about-stopthinkconnect.  As always, cyber resources addressing cyber safety, cyber curriculum for schools, and research can be found on CEROC’s website at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc.

About Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center

CEROC at Tennessee Tech University, established under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on K-20 cybersecurity education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry.  CEROC is an NSA-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) and host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee.  CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity initiative, the largest of its type in the world focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce.  More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc or by sending an email to ceroc@tntech.edu.

About Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Cybersecurity Awareness Month is designed to engage and educate public- and private-sector partners through events and initiatives with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity to increase the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cyber incident. Since the Presidential proclamation establishing Cybersecurity Awareness Month in 2004, the initiative has been formally recognized by Congress, federal, state and local governments and leaders from industry and academia. This united effort is necessary to maintain a cyberspace that is safer and more resilient and remains a source of tremendous opportunity and growth for years to come. For more information, visit staysafeonline.org/cybersecurity-awareness-month/ .

About National Cyber Security Alliance

The National Cyber Security Alliance is a nonprofit alliance on a mission to create a more secure connected world.  We enable powerful, public-private partnerships in our mission to educate and inspire individuals to protect themselves, their families and their organizations for the collective good.  Our primary partners are the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and our Board of Directors, which includes representatives from ADP; AIG; Bank of America; Cofense; Discover; Eli Lilly and Company; ESET North America; Facebook; KnowBe4; La-Z-Boy; Lenovo; Marriott International; Mastercard; Microsoft; Mimecast; NortonLifeLock; Paubox; Proofpoint; Raytheon Intelligence & Space; Terranova Security; US Bank; VISA; Wells Fargo. The National Cyber Security Alliance’s core efforts include Cybersecurity Awareness Month (October); Data Privacy Day (Jan. 28); Identity Management Day; and CyberSecure My Business™. For more information on the National Cyber Security Alliance, please visit https://staysafeonline.org.