Carnegie Mellon and NSA seek high school hackers for next generation of cyber warriors

US-NationalSecurityAgency-1963SealSource: AP

Bored with classes? Carnegie Mellon University and one of the government’s top spy agencies want to interest high school students in a game of computer hacking.

Their goal with “Toaster Wars” is to cultivate the nation’s next generation of cyber warriors in offensive and defensive strategies. The free, online “high school hacking competition” is scheduled to run from April 26 to May 6, and any U.S. student or team in grades six through 12 can apply and participate.

David Brumley, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, said the game is designed to be fun and challenging, but he hopes participants come to see computer security as an excellent career choice.

At a glance of its webpage, the contest seems lightweight.

“When a robot from space crash lands in your backyard, it’s up to your hacking skills to fix him and uncover the secrets he carries,” the webpage says. But, it adds, students “will learn how to identify security vulnerabilities and perform real-world attacks” on computer. And there is the small tag that reads: “Sponsorship provided by the NSA.”

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