Chloe Crisostomo, a junior at Mira Mesa High, is one of the students taking part in Cyber Boot Camp. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Some of San Diego’s most computer-savvy high school students are learning how to hack a network in order to prepare themselves for a career in cyber security.

Two dozen students from three local high schools are spending this week at Cyber Boot Camp in the San Diego offices of ESET, an international computer security company.

“We are learning how to hack, but hacking in a good way,” said Chloe Crisostomo, a junior at Mira Mesa High. “In order to learn how to secure, we have to learn how to hack.”

ESET’s Cameron Camp holding a device that can be used to break into wireless networks. Photo by Chris Jennewein

In one session on Thursday, students heard such terms as “decoys,” “replay attack,” “cloning,”  and “USB port attack” as Cameron Camp, a security researcher at ESET, held up examples of devices used to attack networks.

“You have to understand the network in order to know how to break it,” Camp told the students, adding a warning that, “All your targets are not what they seem.”

The students participating are from Canyon Crest Academy, Westview High School and Mira Mesa High School, the top three teams in the Mayor’s Cyber Cup earlier this year.

The boot camp is sponsored by the Securing Our eCity Foundation, which funds cyber-security programs to raise awareness among businesses, families, youth and seniors.

Liz Fraumann, executive director of the foundation, said the camp is designed to convey the excitement of cyber security. In addition to hands-on training, students hear from law-enforcement officials and top researchers about this growing challenge. As a result, she said, students learn “you don’t just have to sit behind a keyboard to be a cyber professional.”

Cyber crime is on the rise nationally, and has led to a surge in demand for skilled professionals. The number of jobs in San Diego is expected to grow by 13 percent this year.

Fraumann said the foundation hopes the boot camp will lead to internships for the participating students in coming years.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.