New cybersecurity course teaches students how cybercriminals carry out attacks


Nathan Krahn sits at one of the computers in his classroom. Krahn is the teacher of the new Cybersecurity 1 class. (Photo Credit: Andrew Luff)

Andrew Luff, Reporter

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) department is offering a new STEM elective course this 2022-23 school year, Cybersecurity 1. Computer Science teacher, Nathan Krahn, is teaching the new class. Cybersecurity is the protection of internet-connected systems and data from cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is increasingly important for businesses, governments, and other organizations; Cybersecurity is also a growing job field.

“They learn how attacks are made on computers, specifically attacks to get data,” said Krahn. “They learn how people make these attacks and how to counteract them.”

In this new class, students learn about cybersecurity and about how cyberattacks are made through hands-on experience.

“We use a program called Kali Linux to show students how to get into Windows systems,” said Krahn. “Kali Linux has the capability of cracking passwords, getting into Wi-Fi, creating [phishing] emails to send to people… Students learn how to use [Kali Linux] so that they can understand what an attack looks like by carrying out an attack on each other.”

Using Kali Linux, students could, in theory, hack their teachers.

“Recently, I had to send out an email to all of the staff because the thing that I was teaching them how to do could enable them to hack into staff computers,” said Krahn. “So, I had to warn the staff to watch out for emails from all of my students.”

Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important in our world as a result of the increase in cyberattacks on various organizations.

“There have been a lot of recent attacks on companies [and] government agencies,” said Krahn.

Indeed, cyberattacks are becoming more common. According to Forbes, the number of data breaches and cyberattacks increased by 15.1% from 2020 to 2021. This increase in cyberattacks is creating lots of new jobs in the cybersecurity field. Many of these jobs are not being filled, which has led to highly competitive pay.

One of Krahn’s goals for the class is to prepare students to pursue a career in cybersecurity. Students who take the class can apply to take the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) iSecurity+ exam, a cybersecurity certification.

“I like the idea that students who finish my course can apply to take the Security+ exam,” said Krahn. “It’s about $400. Starting pay with the CompTIA Security+ certification is around sixty to seventy thousand dollars… I don’t know of any other field where you can just come straight out of high school and make that kind of money.”

Students interested in computer science can enroll in Cybersecurity 1 or Programming 1 for the 2023-24 school year. 

The Project Aries curriculum fair will be held on Tuesday, November 15. Students will have the opportunity to learn more about the courses offered at Radford. At the end of Project Aries, students will select the classes and electives which they wish to enroll in for the next year. For more information about Cybersecurity 1 and other computer science classes, talk to Krahn in room 283.