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Ethical Hacking

I attended the hackers convention in Las Vegas this month which was officially called DEFCON (DEFCON is military speak for Defense Condition) #19 (in its 19th year). Although the entire convention was interesting, the first-ever children's sessions (DEFCON Kids) were held at the convention. I attended these sessions which were really interesting and posed several questions for teachers of Computer Science to contemplate.

Representatives from Federal government such as the National Security Agency, Homeland Security, Navy, Air Force, NASA and National Defense University were present and not only held sessions regarding 'hacking', but provided children (I did get one of each of the materials) with materials and other information about what the process of hacking is, where hacking skills fit into government operations, and also the ethical import of hacking. The term "ethical hacker" perhaps is not an oxymoron.

I have attached a scan of the NSA (National Security Agency) children's booklet covers. here is the URL for DEFCON Kids:


The Info and Schedules/Classroom tabs have more details.

Several media have also can also published article on this issues, including related news articles from USA Today, Washington Post, PCWorld, PC Magazine, and TechNewsWorld .

One of the questions that kept coming up from some of those in attendance at the convention, especially teachers of Computer Science was whether there are or should be limits to the hacking skills we teach students. Learning to become a hacker, for example, entails learning how to to pick a lock. (There were lock picking kits with instructions available at the convention for purchase. I purchased one of those too.)

We know that there are future hackers in our classes. Do we teach and bring to student consciousness, a knowledge of ethics as it relates to Computer Science? And if yes, what is the instructional delivery method for doing that?

Gladys L. Phillips-Evans
CSTA Board Member

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