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In July, Gavilan College is hosting a free course in cybersecurity designed especially for young adults. Middle school and high school students from San Benito County are encouraged to register for the summer camp, which will be held July 24-28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gilroy campus. Free lunch and snacks are available to all participants, and the last day of the course features a team competition and awards ceremony. Students with little to no knowledge of networks and security are encouraged to register. 

The course, organized by Gavilan computer science teacher Alex Stoykov, will help students understand several important aspects of cybersecurity. First, Stoykov says that understanding cybersecurity is when you’re “trying to prevent somebody from reading the information that you’re sending over the web,” and secondly, learning how to “[prevent] somebody from accessing your computer without your permission.” 

Stoykov says that the course could be understood as a lesson in “hacking and malware prevention, and the tools we use and actions we take to keep computers, networks, and information safe and available for those who need it, and unavailable for those who should not have it.”

Recent events have highlighted just how serious the hacking threat can be, from Russian spies gaining access to the Democratic National Convention emails, to ransomware—programs designed to lock people out of their computer files until a ransom is paid. In May, the BBC reported that WannaCry, a ransomware program, affected more than 200,000 people in 150 countries. 

Students participating in the Gavilan cybersecurity summer camp will learn how to prevent cybersecurity threats from instructors who specialize in networks and security. They will also learn how to help others take precautions against attacks. The Gavilan program is also designed to encourage students to participate in CyberPatriot, the national youth cyber education program that also features a national cyber defense competition for young adult students. That competition will be hosted at Gavilan campus later this year on Nov. 11. 

While students who register for the Gavilan summer camp will be encouraged to compete in the national competition, it is not a requirement. Most importantly, Stoykov says, “most people don’t really know how they are vulnerable,” but participation in the summer camp “is just one step in that direction, to educate. And by educating these young kids, they are going to help their friends, they are going to help their families, and hopefully the whole community becomes more secure.”

Register for the course, or read the brochure for more information.