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October 18, 2021

The Teach Cyber Byte

In this Byte, we examine the Bitcoin cryptocurrency and its connections to the field of cybersecurity. If you enjoyed this Byte and know someone else that would, please feel free to forward and share our newsletter! (Please note: if you forward this to someone else and they click "unsubscribe," you may be unsubscribed from the mailing list.)

1. The Virtual Lounge will feature Guest Speakers and CTF game!

Join us October 21 at 7pm EST for the next Virtual Teacher's Lounge to celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month. “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart. #CybersecurityCareerWeek.” We have a stellar line-up of guest speakers who will discuss:
  • workforce demand in cybersecurity,
  • the NIST Workforce Framework for Cybersecurity (NICE Framework) and
  • how to ignite student interest in cybersecurity using capture-the-flag competitions from the U.S. Cyber Range.
Participants will have the opportunity to complete a capture-the-flag competition after the lounge. Complete the registration found here:

2. Exploring The Cyber Citizenship Hub

Come learn about Cyber Citizenship Hub and have a conversation with resource creators!
Exploring The Cyber Citizenship Hub MLW Event Flyer (1)
Come hear TeachCyber's Dr. Melissa Dark on October 28!

oin the conversation and get a closer look at the tools featured in the hub by Common Sense Education, Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) COR curriculum, and Teach Cyber.
This hub is part of the Cyber Citizenship Initiative. To learn more please visit: https://www.oercommons.org/hubs/cybercitizenship

3. Curriculum Updates

Unit 4 Lessons 1-5 have been updated and uploaded to the website.

In this unit, students delve deep into the technical aspects of cybersecurity:
  • data states and data controls
  • vulnerabilities
  • exploits in software, hardware, networks, cyber-physical systems
  • human use of data.
Lessons 1-5 cover data states, data controls, vulnerabilities and software.
Holistically, Unit 4 emphasizes that the Data Security knowledge area focuses on the protection of data at rest, during processing, and in transit; and introduces the concept that protecting data requires both policy controls (such as laws and regulations), technical security services (such as cryptography, authentication, access control, and secure communication protocols), and physical controls. The desired result is for students to have a general understanding of cybersecurity – a complex set of systems, networks, and human interaction that needs to be protected. Here students show the affinities that work in different aspects of security: secure software development, hardware security, network security administration, cyber-physical security administration, security training/usability design for humans.

Units 1, 2, and 3 are updated and uploaded to the website. The changes for Units 1 and 2 are minor. Unit 3 introduces a WireShark lab. These changes as well as changes to Unit 4 (Lessons 1-5) can be found in the Courseware Update log.
release schedule for future updates is:

Unit 4 - Lessons 6-9 by the end of October!
Unit 5 - November
Unit 6 - December
Unit 7 - January
Unit 8 - February

4. Teacher Spotlight: Meet our Master Teachers

Beth Cerrone
Meet Beth Cerrone. Beth started to teach Computer Science 18 years ago and has loved the problem solving and gritty nature of the subject. She has taught all levels of courses including Intro to Programming, Web Design, App Development, AP Computer Science Principles, and AP Computer Science. She was a reader for AP Computer Science Principles for two years.

Beth started teaching Cybersecurity four years ago and has really enjoyed learning how to protect systems and individuals from cyber threats. Teach Cyber was fortunate to have Beth pilot test the Teach Cyber courseware during the 2020-2021 school year.
Beth is now a Teach Cyber Master Teacher leading lab help sessions so teachers know how to run and operate the labs. When Beth is not teaching cybersecurity, she can be found spending time with her family, playing golf, tennis, or pickleball (her new passion), or reading!
Meet Diane Glasgow. Diane worked as a computer engineer leading a design and development team producing state of the art telemetry data processing systems used for flight test and space applications. After 25 years in the flight test world, Diane received her Masters of Arts in Leadership in Teaching from Notre Dame of Maryland began teaching computer science 3 years ago. She was a pilot teacher for Teach Cyber during the 2020-2021 school year and really enjoys applying her computer science knowledge in a new way.

Diane is now a Teach Cyber Master Teacher working with the cohort of teachers we are supporting on the U.S. Cyber Range to offer lab help session. When Diane isn't teaching, you might find her riding her bicycle with her husband, taking a hike in the woods with her labradoodle Frankie, taking a swim, or traveling to Blacksburg, VA to visit her son who is a Freshman at Virginia Tech.
Diane Glasgow
New to Teaching Cybersecurity?
Beth's advice is:
  1. Be patient with yourself! Everything does not need to be perfect the first time you teach it.
  2. Treat your class as a collaborative learning environment with you as the facilitator.
  3. Take baby steps. It is hard finding the time to learn all of these new concepts while teaching full-time.
  4. Ask a lot of questions of those who have done it before (like here at TeachCyber) so you don't have to recreate the wheel.
  5. Enjoy it! It is a really fun topic to teach.
Diane's advice is:
  1. TeachCyber is definitely the way to go. The curriculum is the total package, lesson plans, activities, labs, assessment questions, and answer keys.
  2. Labs may seem challenging, but there are plenty of resources available and actual people to help you along the way.
  3. Don't be afraid to reach out.

5. State Level Working Group

Teach Cyber had its inaugural meeting of State representatives on September 29, 2021. It was a great kick off, and we thank everyone who attended and shared their ideas for topics of discussion for administrators and key state/local representatives in cybersecurity education.

If you are interested in attending the next SLWG meeting please contact judi.emmel@teachcyber.org. Invites will be emailed out in late October.

6. National Cybersecurity Teaching Academy (NCTA) Graduate Certificate

Are you interested in being credentialed to teach cybersecurity???

A recently funded NSA grant will create the National Cybersecurity Teaching Academy (NCTA). NCTA will offer a 12-credit hour graduate certificate to high school teachers starting summer 2022. The certificate will include coursework on:
  • teaching cybersecurity,
  • foundations of cybersecurity,
  • network security, and
  • advanced topics (we are planning a hands-on practicum where teachers can DO cybersecurity!)
Three universities (DePaul University, University of Louisville, and University of Arkansas-Little Rock) will be offering the virtual program. Scholarship opportunities will be available to support 90 teachers. Interested teachers can register to receive more information about the program here:
The application will open in December so interested teachers should register for information before December 1, 2021.

Teach Cybersecurity. Change the Future.

7. Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week Poster Contest K-12

Careers in Cybersecurity Poster Contest
Do you know of any creative students that might be interested in having an artistic, informative poster of theirs featured in a comic book and showcased at a national level with the opportunity to win money?

In support of Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week, Cyber Hero Network and Fortinet are excited to announce the 2021 CAREERS IN CYBERSECURITY POSTER CONTEST - an opportunity for youth to design a poster to inspire and promote awareness of the exploration of cybersecurity careers.

The mission: for students to use their creative superpowers showing all the amazing things that a cybersecurity defender can do for the Digital Universe by drawing a picture of a cybersecurity worker that shows what they know about cybersecurity and their work to help answer the question: What does a cybersecurity worker look like?

For more information and guidelines for the contest see the flyer below.
Students must submit their posters by November 12.
Poster Project2

8. Word of the Month


Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have taken the financial world by storm. Today's expansive cryptocurrency marketplace enables anyone to get started in Bitcoin trading and mining without understanding how it works under the hood, so you may be surprised to learn that a few important topics in cybersecurity like asymmetric cryptography and peer-to-peer networks underpin the Bitcoin cryptosystem. Bitcoin is built on the blockchain, a publicly accessible ledger that tracks each transaction. Each "block" contains information about a transaction's buyer and seller, the value transferred, the date and time of the transaction, and a unique identifier. These blocks are then stored in chronological order, creating the blockchain.
One of the most exciting features of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is that its blockchain is decentralized: it's not maintained by any one organization but rather the many millions of Bitcoin owners. While it may sound unusual that anyone can contribute to this shared ledger, crowdsourced tracking and verification keep bitcoin secure. For a transaction to be included in the Bitcoin blockchain, it must be verified by the majority of all bitcoin owners [1]. This decentralization is what makes cryptocurrencies fundamentally different from traditional fiat currencies like the United States Dollar. No authority oversees the ledger or controls its value, and everyone knows the balances of every Bitcoin wallet.
Kill Chain (WoW)
To maintain shared trust in the Bitcoin network, its users need assurance that their financial records are cryptographically secure. It's easy to imagine an attacker taking advantage of the blockchain to spend the bitcoin of others or double-spend their own bitcoin. To prevent such attacks, Bitcoin wallets are formed using a private key that only the wallet's owner knows and uses to sign transactions. This private key isn't an actual key but rather a digital, cryptographic one: a long stream of numbers and letters that would be astronomically difficult to brute force. Each private key also has a corresponding public key comparable to a bank account number. As the name implies, this value serves as the Bitcoin wallet's publicly available address, and anyone with bitcoin themselves may send some to it [2].
Kill Chain
Once a transaction is broadcasted over the networks, Bitcoin miners—members of Bitcoin's peer-to-peer network—independently confirm the transaction using high-speed computers, typically within 10 to 20 minutes. This task is computationally intensive, so miners are paid in bitcoin for their efforts [3]. In addition, miners strictly enforce the chronological order and cryptographic rules of the blockchain. Miners have to ensure these are followed to prevent previous blocks from being modified. Such modifications would invalidate all the subsequent blocks in the blockchain and cause trust in the Bitcoin system to collapse. While mining involves verifying the signature of each transaction (which is generated using the transaction message and the wallet's private key), the signature is unique to this specific transaction, so it cannot be reused [4].

These new, pending transactions are stored in a pool that miners can access to complete math problems that verify the transaction. Miners will select batches of transactions combined with information from the blockchain and compute this data's cryptographic hash. As mentioned, the first miner to solve this math problem gets awarded bitcoin--effectively establishing a competitive, cryptographic lottery [5]. The transaction they solve is then added to the blockchain, determining the real order of transactions (which is vital if multiple transactions in the initial pool conflict with one another).

This kind of computational puzzle is employed elsewhere in the Bitcoin network, too. Because each Bitcoin user maintains their own copy of the shared ledger, differences can develop as users stop listening for announced updates to the blockchain. When users try to re-download the ledger (or download it for the first time to begin trading Bitcoin), their request receives ledgers from many users over the Bitcoin network. The requesting user then adopts the most commonly accepted blockchain. Without proper limitations, however, it's possible that a malicious actor could overwhelm the user requesting the blockchain with an incorrect ledger, leading them to believe the forgery is actually correct. To solve this, sending a Bitcoin ledger (called a vote) requires solving cryptographic puzzles as well, adding a computational (and therefore financial) cost to voting and making it unlikely that a single person or group could ever out-compete the majority of Bitcoin users [5].
Kill Chain (WoW)
Because Bitcoin mining is intrinsically linked to voting (as you have to adopt an existing ledger to perform mining), users adopting a given blockchain is effectively a vote for it. Votes are tallied using well-defined statistical properties of the hash function involved in mining. Thus, you can look at any given block in the chain and use these properties to estimate how many computational operations (or guesses against the hash value) were required to complete the mining process [6]. Bitcoin users and miners want a consensus of ledgers to earn more bitcoin and have their transactions accepted, ensuring that a user can trust the most common bitcoin ledger among those they receive.
If you're interested in teaching about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, you can find more about the cybersecurity principles at work in these technologies through Teach Cyber's "Intro to the Challenge of Cybersecurity" course. For example, the concept of trust is explained in Unit 2, Lesson 4, and Bitcoin's cryptographic algorithms are covered in Unit 5, Lesson 3. Both of these lessons and more are free to registered users!

9. Help Us Help You

Teach Cyber is a project within DARK Enterprises, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to Nurturing a Sustainable Cybersecurity Education Ecosystem. We can provide US Cyber Range grants, the curriculum, the virtual lounges, etc., through grants and the generous support of foundations, individuals. There are two ways you can support Teach Cyber today.
  1. Amazon Smile - You shop. Amazon Gives. To donate to Teach Cyber, please use the DARK Enterprises Amazon Smile link: https://smile.amazon.com/ch/47-4951875
  2. Make a direct donation here: https://teachcyber.org/donations-and-partners/ Every dollar counts.
[1] Ashford, Kate and Curry, Benjamin. (2021, April 19). "What Is Bitcoin And How Does It Work?" Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/what-is-bitcoin/

[2] Frankenfield, Jake. (2021, September 24). "Bitcoin." Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bitcoin.asp

[3] Voigt, Kevin. (2021, September 30). "Bitcoin, Explained for Beginners." Nerdwallet. https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/investing/what-is-bitcoin

[4] Walker, Greg. (2015, June 15). "Digital Signatures." Learn Me A Bitcoin. https://learnmeabitcoin.com/beginners/digital_signatures

[5] Bitcoin Project. (2013). "How does Bitcoin work?" https://bitcoin.org/en/how-it-works

[6] Floyd, David. (2020, June 30). "How Bitcoin Works." Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/news/how-bitcoin-works/

[7] John, Alun, Shen, Samuel, and Wilson, Tom. (2021, September 24). "China's top regulators ban crypto trading and mining, sending bitcoin tumbling." https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-central-bank-vows-crackdown-cryptocurrency-trading-2021-09-24/

[8] Nakamoto, S. (2008). "Bitcoin A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System." https://bitcoin.org/en/bitcoin-paper
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