Kids across America no longer have to wait until college to plan on being a part of the National Security Agency. In fact, they could start preparing for their NSA careers as early as age 13.
The NSA has begun sponsoring cybersecurity camps for middle and high school students, agency recruiter Steven LaFountain told CNBC’s Eamon Javers in a recent interview. Six prototype camps launched this past summer, and the NSA hopes to eventually have a presence in schools in all 50 states.
The camps, LaFountain told CNBC, teach “low-level programming… where most cybersecurity vulnerabilities are” and sponsor activities like a “wireless scavenger hunt” in which 10th graders were dispatched to hunt down “rogue access points.” The general idea is to eliminate “threats out there on the Internet”
“The students are really, really into it,” LaFountain added.
This isn’t the first time the NSA has reached out to the youth of America. In 2010, the NSA introduced CryptoKids, animated characters tasked with the vital mission of informing kids about cybersecurity. And unlike Saturday morning cartoons, the CryptoKids are still going strong.
If the NSA wants to give its summer camp program the same longevity, it might think about bulking up the curriculum. Somehow, despite training kids in sophisticated techniques to defeat computer and network attacks, the agency’s curriculum is silent on one of the simplest, and highest profile, data breaches in NSA history. “I typically don’t talk to them about” Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked a vast trove of secrets, LaFountain said.