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    IWTC Corry Station Officer Guest Speaker for GenCyber Program

    IWTC Corry Station Officer Guest Speaker for GenCyber Program

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Lindsay Lair | Lt. Alicia Oberholtzer, cryptologic warfare officer instructor at Information Warfare...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lindsay Lair 

    Center for Information Warfare Training

    PENSACOLA, Fla. – They filed into a sunlit conference room and begin to take their seats. Their morning, filled with hands-on activities about password cracking and code breaking. A group of girls between 6th and 8th grades from five regional Girl Scouts of America troops learned the building blocks of cybersecurity.

    Lt. Alicia Oberholtzer, cryptologic warfare officer instructor at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Corry Station attended as a guest speaker for the GenCyber Experience, a program aimed at inspiring and educating children and young adults about careers in the cyber field, at the University of West Florida’s (UWF) Center for Cybersecurity on Nov. 4, 2023.

    Guy Garrett, program director for GenCyber and associate director of Technology and Training at the Center for Cybersecurity said, “It’s important to get young girls excited about this field. These young girls see these teams of woman and think, ‘Hey, I could be like them in a couple of years.’”

    The workshop partnered GenCyber and the Cybersecurity Ambassadors with the UWF chapters of the Society of Women Engineers and Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS), a global community of women focused on recruitment, retention and advancement of women in cybersecurity.

    Garrett explained that the gender gap in the cyber workforce needs to be filled with new forward thinking perspectives, and he focused on the need to educate girls about opportunities to get into a good career field and to do something that matters. This concept ties in well with the Girl Scouts’ emphasis on: how does this help others, and what does this inspire you to be.

    “It’s important for school-age girls to understand that in careers like engineering, science, computer engineering, and cybersecurity there is a low representation of women” said Garrett. “These are absolutely great opportunities. They just don’t know about it.”

    He said the reason they approach girls at this age group is to introduce them to the concept early on so they can revisit the idea in high school. The idea proved true when he shifted the original target group and saw a 38 percent increase in female campers returning for advance workshops.
    Anna Wheeler, strategic initiatives lead at Leidos, spoke to the group about the importance of women taking up space in this career field and making their voice heard when they are seated at the table.

    “You are in the room because they don’t want you to be quiet,” said Wheeler. “You’re in the room because someone sees something in you and values your opinion and outlook. Speak up!”

    While speaking to the Girl Scouts, Oberholtzer’s mission was to introduce the audience to the Navy-side of cybersecurity and the opportunities in a naval career. She explained some of the different job roles within the Navy, such as Information Systems Technician (IT), Cyber Warfare Technician (CWT), and her officer designation, Cryptologic Warfare Officer.

    “In the Navy we have two primary ratings focused on cybersecurity and the cyber mission. The IT…responsible for manning daily upgrades, patches and establishing new computers on our networks,” said Oberholtzer. “The CWT, our ‘super cyber force,’ defends our networks from adversaries, whether it’s another government, terrorist activity, or hackers in a basement.”

    She went on to talk about her experience with cyber prior to commissioning, while working as a linguist, and since then as a Navy officer.

    After the speaking engagement Oberholtzer reflected on the experience.

    “It’s so exciting to be asked to visit with girls who still have their whole life in front of them,” said Oberholtzer. “It’s almost like an opportunity to go back in time and tell your younger self things you wish you had known. To just expose them to the opportunities women have today, and jobs out there available for them to pursue, is like putting tools in their life tool belt. I also think it is extremely important to remind them how far we’ve come as women in society and hopefully push them towards breaking new barriers of their own."

    At the end of the workshop, the troops had completed several activities including password cracking, Kali Linux-based tools such as, NetCat, and Metasploit, and creating a paper electric circuit with LEDs. These activities qualified each Girl Scout for the Cybersecurity Basics and STEM Career Exploration badges.



    Date Taken: 11.09.2023
    Date Posted: 11.09.2023 14:42
    Story ID: 457592
    Location: PENSACOLA, FL, US

    Web Views: 232
    Downloads: 0