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Youngsters ‘save the world’ in cyber-security summer camp

Cyber Security 15 -08-19 (Photo John Bugeja) pupils from Bayside and Westside School

A cyber security summer camp held this week saw local youngsters try to ‘save the world’ by hacking into a fictitious artificial intelligence system.

The summer camp held at the University of Gibraltar catered for beginners as well as teenagers with years of experience.

The youngsters were split into five teams with a scenario of a ‘big and evil umbrella cooperation’ having lost control of their artificial intelligence system that is threatening to destroy the world.

The teenagers needed to break into the umbrella cooperation, find the ‘red queen’ and turn her off.

Included in this task were small puzzles above the task of exploiting machines. To up the difficulty the team at Hedgehog Security led by Peter Basill would “counter attack” the teenagers as they try to find the red queen.

This meant that the youngsters had to ensure their computers were protected from the possible attacks.

“There are lots of little puzzles too,” Mr Basill said.

“We have simulated a satellite orbiting the earth and it will only be available at the Gibraltar longitude and latitude for around 20 minutes. They need to hack into the satellite.”

The teenagers were given a lesson in law and ethics before taking part in the event, to ensure they are aware of any repercussions.

Due to its popularity Mr Bassill added the team are looking at hosting another cyber security camp this winter.

The camps are organised with Bayside Head of Physics Stewart Harrison who started the initiative some years ago.

“Industry experience for these kids is the way forward,” Mr Harrison said.

“To get these kids into these fields they need industry experience. We need to encourage more businesses to feed their knowledge to the kids. Maybe one or two of them could work for one of these companies in a few years’ time.”

Hedgehog security currently has one former Bayside student working for the team as an apprentice.

Owen Rogers and Dylan Risso both aged 13 were engrossed in their computers attempting to hack into the system destroying the world.

Owen told the Chronicle he decided to start learning about cyber security last year at a tour of Bayside School and Dylan most enjoyed decoding and binary.

Rosie Warne and Emma Couper both aged 14 have been learning about cyber security since last November.

“We didn’t really know anything about cyber security before Mr Harrison gave a talk at our school about how he wanted more girls in the industry,” said Emma.

“After first it was just an after school thing but we’ve come to really enjoy it.”

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