Hey kids, wanna get your hack on? The developers of Hacker Highschool, a free cybersecurity awareness and education project, have just issued a newly revamped version of the organization's first lesson plan titled Being a Hacker, and will soon be reissuing updated curricula for all 23 of the course's tutorials.
The Hacker Highschool program provides security and privacy awareness teaching materials and back-end support for educators at accredited junior high, high schools, and for use in home schooling, all at no cost to students or teachers. The lesson plans are available in multiple languages, and seek to challenge teens to become more resourceful hackers, including providing lessons on safe Internet use, ensuring web privacy, how to use the Internet safely for research projects, how to avoid malware infections, and provides information on legal issues and hacker ethics.
"Hacker Highschool lessons help teens learn how to be more resourceful, creative, and in control of the things they own. All this while providing practical security and safety techniques," Pete Herzog told Security Bistro.
Herzog is one of the founders of Hacker Highschool, which was originally started in early 2004. The intent of the program is not to create a new generation of malicious actors, as the term "hacker" is often misunderstood as applying only those who are engaged in illicit online activities. Instead, it was designed to educate kids about the risk of fraud, identity theft, privacy leaks and other dangers they will no doubt encounter as digital citizens, and provides lessons on how they can best protect themselves.
"This open, free project is a relaunch of the lessons first published in 2004. Over 60 volunteers, led by me and managed by Glenn Norman have been working months to provide a total of 23 lessons. The first of which has been released today, 'Lesson 1, Being a Hacker'. The final lesson is on Trolling," Herzog said.
Herzog is also the co-founder and the managing director of the Institute for Security and Open Methodologies (ISECOM), the non-profit open community of security researchers and practitioners who collaborated to develop the Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual (OSSTMM), a peer-reviewed manual of security testing and analysis guidelines.
Inspiration for Hacker Highschool came from a study sponsored by ISECOM and the United Nations UNICRI called the "Hacker Profiling Project" which confirmed that it is the uneducated amateur hacker who does the most damage through sheer carelessness and a lack of understanding of the potential repercussions from their actions.
Hacker Highschool enables kids to obtain a greater understanding of Internet based threats from both an attacker's point of view as well as that of a potential victim, and makes a concerted effort to instill a code of ethics along with the development of higher level hacking skills.
"Security awareness has to be the continuing practice of a skill and not the continuous reminder of a threat. That's why we need high school students to actively take on real hacking attacks. Like a fire drill or even driver education, students need real practice if they want to learn how not to end up a victim," the program's website explains.