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How Hacker Highschool Is Inspiring the Next Generation of Defensive Hackers

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On this week’s SecurityIntelligence podcast, host David Jarvis chats with Pete Herzog, co-founder of Hacker Highschool, and Heather Ricciuto, IBM Security’s academic outreach leader, about Hacker Highschool’s new lesson on defensive hacking and its potential to help close the cybersecurity skills gap.

Cyber School Is in Session

This online educational tool started as a way to boost teenagers’ cybersecurity skills and awareness by giving them actionable security knowledge. Although it went live in 2003, Hacker Highschool really took off in 2013 thanks to the explosion of online and mobile services designed for students.

From the start, Hacker Highschool was written with teens in mind and designed to inspire curiosity — rather than simply advise caution. The program’s self-teaching model contradicts the idea that hacking is dangerous by teaching kids how to use their knowledge for good.

IBM’s partnership with Hacker Highschool helps students generate the types of “new collar” skills that are now required for security operations center (SOC) analysts and other frontline security positions.

Lessons From the Trenches

Hacker Highschool’s newest lesson focuses on turning hacking skills into good defenses. According to Herzog, the module also includes “lessons from the trenches” that provide real-world cybersecurity insights. These insights include everything from making mistakes and learning how to recover to handling office politics.

For instance, what happens when security analysts come across information they’d rather not know? With whom do they share this information? How do they go about it? For Riccuto, the lesson serves as a critical introduction to security information and event management (SIEM) and related concepts. It also helps prepare students for positions like junior SOC analyst.

Ultimately, the partnership between Hacker Highschool and IBM Security encourages teens to discover what the changing world of cybersecurity has to offer — and how they could help make the world a safer place.

Visit Hacker Highschool and enroll in Lesson 12 — Defensive Hacking