Young Minds at Cyber Camp use DETERLab to Understand Routing Protocol & More

This summer DETER was used to teach and demonstrate cybersecurity in action to middle school and high school aged students, primarily comprising of 7th through 9th graders, at the GenCyber Camp hosted at University of Wisconsin Green Bay (UWGB). The 5-day cybersecurity camp that took place during July 31 through August 4 benefited both students and teachers. Student attendees typically have minimal exposure to computer programming and systems security. Part of the larger program’s mission is to help K-12 students in the United States understand correct and safe online practices while stimulating interest in the cybersecurity field. The GenCyber program also provides teachers in attendance a learning opportunity for improving their curricula in terms of methods for delivering cybersecurity content and best practices in achieving quality cyber-education.

Currently, the US is significantly lacking in skilled cyber professionals, so exposure to computer science and basic networking concepts at a much earlier age is key to addressing this shortfall. A sparse pool of cyber talent makes our nation extremely vulnerable in several ways, ranging from economic to national security interests. Part of the GenCyber vision is to inspire young minds and expose them to career possibilities in cyber-based technology as early as possible to pave the way for postsecondary education. This is especially critical to do as our society becomes increasingly reliant upon Internet-connected devices to deliver information, perform tasks, and keep our lives on track from staying healthy to arriving at a destination successfully.

Matt Neis, teaching and research assistant at UWGB, used DETER’s testbed education exercise on Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to introduce students to the de-facto inter-domain routing protocol of the Internet. This particular cyber learning module in DETER is intended to familiarize learners with prefix hijacking attacks. These types of hijacking attacks pose a significant threat to the Internet. Matt gave the students a step-by-step accounting of how this type of attack is carried out, using a small testbed model as the demonstration example, within the safe confines of DETERLab (DETER’s testbed). Neis taught the BGP educational exercise course to three separate groups throughout Thursday – 35 students in each group – as part of the hands-on cybersecurity lab experience. Placing this activity towards the end of the week allowed the students to put into practice what was taught earlier on, such as SSH, Linux, and basic networking routing principles.

Mr. Neis also taught cryptography, mobile security, and DDoS during his instruction. To tie it all together, the last day of camp was reserved for a capture-the-flag (CTF) activity that served as the ‘cumulative experience’ quiz. CTF is a situational method for testing the students’ knowledge and experience from camp by applying it to realistic security scenarios in attacking or defending real servers in DETERLab. Matt came away impressed at their ability to comprehend and execute what he had taught them in a relatively short period of time at camp.

Matt Neis is under faculty adviser and lead GenCyber (UWGB) PI Ankur Chattopadhyay. The GenCyber program is jointly funded by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation and is open to all student and teacher participants at no cost. To learn more about this impactful program, visit:

Group Photo: Summer 2017 GenCyber Camp at University of Wisconsin Green Bay

A group photo of all involved at the Summer 2017 GenCyber Camp hosted at University of Wisconsin Green Bay (UWGB). Student participants are in red shirts, camp assistants in blue shirts, and camp instructors in green shirts.

Group Photo of Student Learners Performing Hands-On Exercises as Instructors and Assistants Look On

Matt Neis (green shirt, far left in the background) looks on from the control station at the student learners -- along with fellow instructors and assistants -- in one of the many classrooms at UWGB used for practical hands-on exercises.