Class tackles cyber security

Dorrie Gaeng, Staff writer

Reports of Russia hacking the United States election trouble computer science teacher Damon George.
“Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or other, I think we should all be concerned that we had a foreign country trying to–and arguably successfully–manipulating our election,” he said.
While George didn’t address this particular headline in his Advanced Placement Foundations of Computer Science class, his lessons have moved beyond basic computer science and into cyber security in the context of recent events.
“The environment we live in today and this election bring up problems that we’ve never had to deal with before,” George said. “The questions of these new ethical debates, over not just security but privacy as well, are becoming increasingly difficult to answer.”
George’s class tackled issues like phone security involved in last year’s San Bernardino case and the hack on Sony Picture Entertainment.
“At first kids are very pro-privacy, but it’s situational,” George said. “We all think the government shouldn’t be accessing our information, but there’s always a ‘but.’”
Security was at the forefront of this election, Goerge said. He noted that although the push for transparency is positive overall, there are other considerations.
“Wiki Leaks is pushing for individuals to have access to information pertaining to their futures,” George said. “But how that information is acquired is controversial and we need to decide if that’s the precedent we want to set.”
For the first time this year, AP Computer Science counts for a technology or engineering credit. George hopes that his students will think about working in the field of computer science.
“There is such a shortage of qualified individuals for this industry,” George said. “It’s an arms race, for the best young minds.”
Next year, George said he hopes to invite representatives from Dunbar, a cash management company, to talk to his students.
Dunbar recently launched a digital division and is moving toward digital currency.
George predicts his students’ generation may soon abandon cash.
“It’s inconvenient, it’s a liability and it slows us down,” he said.
Although not every student here will take computer science, George said they should all be literate in digital safety.
“Assume your digital life is not private,” George said. “The key is to be very aware. Be tuned into your finances and use proactive. Take as many precautions as you can.”
At least one current student said George’s class has made him more confident.
“I’ve researched DDOS attacks, which is when someone overloads the network,” junior Michael Angelos said. “I’ve learned new things.”