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Cyber Camp 2013
August 10, 2013

After spending nearly a week at Northern California for cyber camp, I am finally home! I had an awesome experience at cyber camp and I am grateful for having the opportunity to attend the event again this year. If you don’t know what cyber camp is, it’s basically a program where workshops and activities regarding cyber security take place. This relates to my major so it gives me an extra boost in the field.

Orientation
During orientation, we had to introduce ourselves to the rest of the camp. There were people from all sorts of places ranging from South Korea (army base) to Texas along with local residents. I practically represented my school since no one else came along. It makes sense since we don’t have a legit IT/cyber security program. I saw some familiar faces there and met lots of new people. For the ice breaker, we played human bingo (where you go around asking people for autographs if they fit the description) and I came out in 3rd! To end our orientation, we had to form groups and make a four-syllable phrase/dance routine then other groups had to mimic the dances. Some of the phrases we came up with included double rainbow, hokey pokey, I like ice cream, pick a new game, you’re my hero, epic stall, do the nop nop, and etc.

Workshops
Every day from Monday through Thursday, we had workshops where the instructors pack a week’s worth of materials within 10 hours. We learned about windows memory forensics, reverse engineering malware, tactical attacks, and writing exploits. Best of all, this was a hands-on workshop where we follow along whether it’s entering commands or examining the information/processes of a malware. It was pretty intense but I survived through it all. At least I understand more of what’s going on this year compared to last year.

The Campers
In total, there were around 77 people who attended the camp. 9~10 of them were females while the rest of them are males.. What do you expect from a field that is dominated by men to begin with? Everyone was friendly and well rounded. There was no room for negativity… Except for me complaining to one of the TA’s about not wanting an all-women team again this year. There were a few people who I knew from last year’s camp while everyone else are people I never met before.

Other Events
There were other events outside the workshops that took place including an executive round table where security professions from companies such as Visa, Facebook, FireEye, FBI, and etc. came to talk to us about the need for cyber security in the workforce. Another event that took place was an ethics panel where we discussed about what kind of actions are appropriate for some specific situations in a workforce. There is so much you can do before an action becomes unethical/illegal. Also, if somebody hacks your company, don’t hack them back; it’s unethical. After having dinner on Sunday, some campers and I walked around the school and saw a symphony taking place where a Royal Guard (from Star Wars) walked around taking pictures with people.

Munchies
As for the food, we were provided access to the dining halls during breakfast and dinner. Sandwiches were catered to us daily during lunch along with coffee here and there during the workshops. I wasn’t a fan of the food they had there but it was free food so I can’t really complain about it. I ended up buying food elsewhere or skipped the meals. On the first night, I bought some beef jerky!

Capture the Flag
To end cyber camp, we had a capture the flag competition. I was put in a team with an IT student and an IT Security Officer. During the competition, we had to find “flags” such as WEP keys, strings, database values, MySQL information, account passwords, and so on. I mainly worked on the WordPress vulnerabilities and wireless hacks. With teamwork, my team ended up placing 10th out of 26. Individually, I scored as #8 out of the 77 or so campers. As a female, I probably scored as first. This competition was a teamwork effort and I am highly satisfied with the results. Not to mention, the school’s technician team played some electronic dance music in the background while spinning the disco ball. If you can’t imagine what I just described, check out my vine.

Miscellaneous
Anything else that happened during camp? I usually have 5 hours of sleep each night and hung out with other campers. I talked to one of the people in charge of the camp about my interest in transferring to their school and got some connections in making the process easier. Up in the suites, we had no wifi so there were some campers (including myself) who created wifi hotspots and named them after our ice breaker dance phrase.

To finish off this blog post, I really enjoyed attending cyber camp this year. I learned a lot about cyber security and hope to apply the knowledge in the future when possible. I met and reunited with some fellow computer nerds, and beasted through the capture the flag competition. This week-long experience is definitely memorable and gave me a motivation to major in the field I’m studying as a computer information systems student.

Note: I am getting back on returning comments. I’m recovering from having a melted brain from the intense week~ 

7 Responses

  1. Becca ☆ August 12, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Ah wow, cyber camp sounds super exciting! I wouldn’t know the first thing about security or hacking or anything like that, but it sounds like you had an amazing time! The talk from the FBI people must have been interesting too. Shame about the food though, but I guess free food is never going to be perfect 🙁
    It sounds like you’ve made some amazing friends and had a fantastic week 🙂 congratulations on coming 8th, that’s incredible!

  2. Amy ☆ August 12, 2013 at 4:55 am

    Cyber camp sounds like fun! 5 hours sleep?? That’s not a lot – you must have been having a great, but busy time then.

    I’m usually someone who doesn’t like food that’s provided either. I’m a bit fussy about eating – I worked at a festival once where we were provided with really strange food – that I wouldn’t normally eat. At least it was free.

    The orientation games sound like fun. Glad you had a good time!

    xx

  3. Becca ☆ August 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Wow, it sounds like a pretty intense week! I’m glad that you enjoyed it and learned a lot of new things. Congrats on scoring #8 out of all 77 campers! That’s awesome! 🙂

    Bummer about the food – at least you could go buy some of your own. Food is the most important part 😉

  4. Agent Q ☆ August 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Despite the intensity, I wish I were there. Those were some very interesting subjects. I wish I were a part of this learning experience. I’m interested in hearing more about it. Maybe a quick tutorial page to get started? Glad you had a wonderful experience overall. Good to see you back. 🙂

  5. Cat ☆ August 12, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    The workshops sound really interesting! That’s pretty crazy that they pack so much information in a short amount of time. That sounds like it’d be hard to keep up with.

    I don’t like it when people see so few women in a tech field and think it’s a good idea to put them all together. I’d rather be treated the same as everyone else and not get special treatment.

    That’s cool that they got security professionals from big companies. It’s always nice to see how things you learn are applied in the real world 🙂 I also think it’s really interesting to talk about ethics when it comes to the tech fields. Most people don’t think about that kind of thing when they’re working away on their projects.

    haha, I was thinking of the physical sports “capture the flag” when I read that heading. That’s awesome that they turned it into a relevant competition for you guys. Congrats on doing well in it! I’m glad you had a good time at the camp!

  6. Amanda ☆ August 12, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Cyber camp sounds so fun! I wish I was in a field like yours instead of crummy social sciences. 😛 Aw, I hate it when people pair all girl/all guy groups, although I guess it’s pretty difficult in a male-dominated field. They should still try to at least disperse it equally!

    Congratulations on being 8th, though! 🙂 At least the 5hrs of sleep is a decent sacrifice for the fun you had though, right? ^-^

  7. Stephanie ☆ August 13, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    That sounds super intense and super fun! I wish that I had gone to that sort of thing when I had the chance to. Out of curiosity, was the camp more of a “how to” type of thing, or did you learn about the low level computer stuff that actually makes these security holes happen? (Stack-breaking/arbitrary code execution comes to mind…)

    And go you for not wanting to be put on an all girls-team! As a fellow woman in a male-dominated field, I’m a firm believer that the tech field is better off not giving women and girls special treatment – a lack of negativity is exactly what I want, and people in tech are pretty good at that!

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