New Cyber Course Takes Different Approach

The Air Force Academy’s newly introduced summer course called Cyber 256, Basic Cyber Operations, isn’t the run-of-the-mill book-focused computer science course. Instead, it’s designed to emphasize the practical applications of being a cyber warrior and whet cadets’ appetites for more in-depth cyber work. “We think we’re the only folks doing this,” said Col. David Gibson, the academy’s computer science department head, who helped design the course. “There are some commercial folks doing something similar, but not in a military context.” The bulk of the course is dedicated to attacking and exploiting computer networks. Among their activities, class participants acquire a freely downloadable hacker toolkit and adopt the hacker mentality in order to learn about network vulnerabilities. There’s also a field trip to the Integrated Network Operations and Security Center at Peterson AFB, Colo., to see cyber professionals in action. (Colorado Springs report by David Edwards)