A 2008 Calvert High School graduate was in elite company this summer while he was learning about cyber security.
Kyle Smathers, a Tiffin resident, participated in Advanced Course in Engineering Cyber Security Boot Camp at Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
According to information from Smathers' father, he was one of 31 Air Force and Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets and midshipmen chosen to become the U.S. Department of Defense's newest cyber warriors. The course was created in response to the growing number of cyber security exploitations and attacks, it states.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KYLE SMATHERS
Kyle Smathers (standing, far right), a senior at Wright State University, participates in a briefing.
Smathers was selected for the eight-week program and completed it earlier this month.
Smathers is a senior at Wright State University studying computer engineering and is a senior cadet in the school's Air Force ROTC. He has been in ROTC since his freshman year of college and is to be commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation.
Smathers said he decided to apply for the program because he thought it was a good
opportunity to enhance his skills.
He said the focus of the program mainly was cyber defense and cyber attacking, and participants learned how to attack other networks and defend themselves and computer networks. They focused on national defense, he said.
Smathers said it was an enjoyable and helpful program, and he learned a lot.
He said he learned how to hack and how to crack certain encryptions. He said his favorite part probably was learning how to steal people's Facebook passwords. Cadets weren't taught it but were taught a tool they could use to find the passwords, and a group of cadets figured it out, he said.
"That was a fun day," he said.
Cadets had to sign forms saying they wouldn't use what they learned outside of the program, he said.
Smathers said the program had a lot of classroom work along with hands-on activities that taught participants a tool or technique that students got to use in a laboratory.
At the end of the program, students had a two-day "hack fest" where two teams of cadets tried to defend their network and attack the other team.
"My team ended up winning," he said.
Smathers said it gave him insight about not only tools and techniques but also gave him a taste for active duty. The schedule closely mimicked that of an active duty officer, he said.
"The hours were long. ... We were always surrounded by (officers)," he said.