Introduction to Cybersecurity

  10-12 graders

  Credits awarded on transcript  

  Algebra I completed with B- or better

  UC A-G approved for [G] Elective credits

  2 hours per day (summer)  

  8-10 students per class

  4 days per week 2, 4, or 6 weeks

  589 per student, per week  

  Self paced instructor-guided  

  Online community

  Office hours on-demand

  1549 per student, per semester  

  90 minutes per class

  4-8 students per class

  Twice per week over 36 weeks

  1549 per student, per semester  

We live in a world where everything from simple facts to the most dynamic and valuable financial assets are just bits and bytes represented in a computer. Changing, falsifying, or simply intercepting such information can be more devastating to individuals, societies, and even nations than physical attacks and wars of the past. The more we democratize access to information for our convenience, the more potential vulnerabilities we expose ourselves to. This can come in the form of phishing attacks to get access to our bank accounts or social engineering to infiltrate highly secure government and corporate networks. It is an imperative that our future generations are aware of how security works in today’s globally interconnected world.

This course introduces students to the foundational concepts, principles, and tools of cybersecurity. Students will learn what it means to establish trust in electronic communications between two or more parties, how data is secured during transit and at rest, how we secure entire systems, and the inherent risks of ubiquitous connectivity. They will employ adversarial thinking to analyze threats, vulnerabilities, and attacks, and learn tools used for data encryption in network communications.

Students will also appreciate the implications of ethics and judgement through study of historical events in the context of contemporary laws and policies governing the use and treatment of data.

The curriculum is based on the High School Cybersecurity Curriculum Guidelines that covers the broad, encompassing areas of importance to cybersecurity.

No prior programming experience is necessary, but many of the programming techniques covered in this course do not appear in a typical introduction to programming. The programming content of this course focuses on identifying and mitigating risks in hardware and software systems. Therefore, students who take the course after taking other programming courses often learn a new approach to programming that they haven't encountered before.

In order to maximize our time together during the live sessions, we use a flipped classroom model that includes pre-work for every class. This allows students to program with the support of an instructor during the class. The pre-work includes pre-recorded videos, online reading, and some programming practice.

   University of California A-G approved for [G] College-Preparatory Elective credits.

Course Outline

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  1. Ethics
    Cybersecurity has broad implications. Ethical reflection and judgment are required to make decisions about the trade-offs between the benefits and harms. All cybersecurity exists within a context of social, organizational, and personal values. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate the ethical implications among all stakeholders.
  2. Establishing Trust
    Knowledge of the fundamental cybersecurity principles is necessary to determine security requirements and mechanisms, as well as to identify vulnerabilities and threats. This unit emphasizes the cybersecurity principles, the CIA triad and how to question assumptions as the basis for establishing trust in cybersecurity.
  3. Ubiquitous Connectivity
    The Internet is a vast number of devices ubiquitously connected over a large number of network technologies. Our dependence on ubiquitous connectivity has strong implications if any one node in the network becomes compromised.
  4. Data Security
    Everything from simple facts to the most sensitive and valuable financial assets are just data stored on the network of computers. Students will study laws and policies governing data; evaluate the tools used to connect cyber-physical systems; and practice using the encryption techniques needed to secure data across networks.
  5. System Security
    Students learn about authentication, identification, authorization, and access controls that are designed to prevent disclosure, deception, disruption, destruction, or usurpation of a system. They cover symmetric and asymmetric cryptography as well as physical policies as part of a comprehensive defense-in-depth protection strategy.
  6. Adversarial Thinking
    Students will consider how an adversary might attempt to find key assets, compromise those assets, and avoid detection. The most challenging adversaries adapt to defenses and adjust their attacks based on the system’s responses. Students will employ these techniques to analyze threats and vulnerabilities, as well as attacks.
  7. Risk
    Students learn about the risk assessment process as a methodology for grasping cybersecurity risk in the face of inherently complex systems, the presence of adversaries, the logical malleability and the dynamic and distributed nature of computing.
  8. Implications
    Societies face cybersecurity issues regarding infrastructure, law enforcement, and social and cultural issues. History proves that adversaries can launch attacks from anywhere transcending global borders, requiring adaptation. Students learn about historical events and their cybersecurity implications examining the evolution of the threat environment at the local and global level.

Summer of Code
    see detailed summer schedule

To take any of our courses, students must be familiar with opening a browser, navigating to a website, and joining a Zoom meeting.

Students must have a quiet place to study and participate in the class for the duration of the class. Some students may prefer a headset to isolate any background noise and help them focus in class.

Most course lectures and content may be viewed on mobile devices but programming assignments and certain quizzes require a desktop or laptop computer.

Students are required to have their camera on at all times during the class, unless they have an explicit exception approved by their parent or legal guardian.

Our technology requirements are similar to that of most Online classes.

A desktop or laptop computer running Windows (PC), Mac OS (Mac), or Chrome OS (Chromebook).
Students must be able to run a Zoom Client.
A working microphone, speaker, webcam, and an external mouse.
A high-speed internet connection with at least 15mbps download speed (check your Internet speed).

This course includes several timed tests where you will be asked to complete a given number of questions within a 1-3 hour time limit. These tests are designed to keep you competitively prepared but you can take them as often as you like. We do not proctor these exams, neither do we require that you install special lockdown browser.

In today's environment, when students have access to multiple devices, most attempts to avoid cheating in online exams are symbolic. Our exams are meant to encourage you to learn and push yourself using an honor system.

We do assign a grade at the end of the year based on a number of criteria which includes class participation, completion of assignments, and performance in the tests. We do not reveal the exact formula to minimize students' incentive to optimize for a higher grade.

We believe that your grade in the course should reflect how well you have learnt the skills, and a couple of timed-tests, while traditional, aren't the best way to evaluate your learning.