Two-Day Virtual Cybersecurity Training for High School Teachers under the PERFECT Project of the SCORE Lab

With the exponential growth of cyberspace, it is not only demanding more human resources to protect it but also calling on more skilled security people. Besides, it is also urging vigilant and educative steps from the mass users of this space. To better understand the security aspects of the world wide web, it necessitates an earlier start. To respond to that quest, introducing cybersecurity concepts for K-12 students is a significant step. Dr. Gahangir Hossain, Associate Professor in the Department of Information Science, and his team has developed content under the PERFECT project - Providing Environment and Resources for STEM 9th-12th Graders in Effective Cybersecurity Training funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). This three-year project (2021-2024) aims to train Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) high school students (9 thru 12 graders) in cybersecurity awareness so that they can early identify cyber incidence, determine appropriate action, protect against cyber threats, detect the incidence, and respond to it timely as needed. Recently, the project was extended for another year, promising more activities under Dr. Hossain’s SCORE Lab.

The project’s content comprises three modules: basic, intermediate, and advanced. The contents of the basic module were prepared last year divided into ten units, and it was experimentally implemented in several Independent School Districts (ISDs) of Texas. Before disseminating the contents to students, interested schoolteachers from these ISDs are trained for two days and their feedback was incorporated to update the materials. This year, the updated contents are set to be implemented in Denton ISD.

The teacher training targeting Denton ISD has been completed online throughout two days on May 30-31, 2024. There were eight sessions totaling 12 hours divided into sxi hours each day. The very first session of the first day was started by the Principal Investigator (PI) of the project, Dr. Hossain, welcoming all participants and instructors. After the introductory session of the project, he lectured on Cyber Ethics, Privacy, Critical Cyber Infrastructures, explaining why we need to care for our kids of 9th -12th in this regard. The second session was led by Yahya Awaad, a PhD student of Dr. Hossain, focused on Cyber Threat Analysis, including malware, DoS, network packets, etc. Later he conducted a hands-on activity with a cyber data analysis tool named Weka. Another student of Dr. Hossain, Dr. Kossi Bissadu, a PhD holder from the department of Information Science of UNT contributed to content development.

After the lunch break, a recorded lecture of Yasen Quadri Ameen Syed, an MS student, covered basic hacking concepts and preventive measures. After the lecture, two hands-on activities were presented by Enamul Hassan who is a PhD student under Dr. Hossain. These two activities covered defensive security and offensive security. The second session of the day involved Cybersecurity through games-based learning with a recorded lecture by Shafi Parvez Mohammed, another MS student. Dr. Mikyung Shin, an Assistant Professor of Special Education at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) who is another PI of the project, coordinated a fun and engaging hands-on security game. In this day, Mr. Hassan moderated the first sessions, while Mr. Awaad moderated the second sessions.

On the second day, Leela Pavani Velagala, another PhD student of Dr. Hossain, kicked off the first session with a lecture on Securing Networks, Internet, Web/Cloud, and Email Accounts, followed by a hands-on activity with Wireshark. After the session, the moderator Mr. Hassan called a short break. The second session was started after the break by another PI of the project, Dr. Brigette Whaley, an Associate Professor of Education at WTAMU. She delivered a lecture on Generative AI and Educational Tools and presented a hands-on activity based on generative AI which can help schoolteachers in various aspects. Following her lecture, a recorded lecture played on the topic Social Media Security for Kids Learning Cybersecurity by Durga Srikari who was an MS student working in Dr. Hossain’s lab. At the end, the moderator Mr. Salleh Sonko, another PhD student under Dr. Hossain, announced the lunch break.

After lunch, Mr. Hassan resumed the session on Blockchain, Encryption-Decryption, Authentication. Dedeepya Yarra, an MS student, assisted in gathering and organizing resources for this lecture. The hands-on activities explored various blockchain technologies. Following a short break, Mr. Sonko presented on cybersecurity careers and frameworks demonstrating relevant tools. Dr. Shin concluded the session with a lecture on Metaverse and Text Mining in Cybersecurity, including helpful hands-on activities.

Participants attended the sessions attentively and provided valuable feedback through follow-up surveys. There were ten quick surveys and a comprehensive survey after the program. These surveys will aid in further research and decision-making, particularly for content creation. The project will continue to develop content and training for intermediate and advanced modules under SCORE Lab. Dr. Hossain is optimistic about arranging similar training sessions for non-computing major students at UNT every year.

“I wanted to thank you and your incredible team for sharing your knowledge and expertise on the subjects they presented! I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the time spent. If I can help you and your team in the future, please feel free to reach out. I would love to be a part of it. Thanks again.” - Tyler D, Participant

SCORE Lab Link:
PERFECT Project Link:


Published June 10th, 2024