LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- From smart phones to smart vacuums, technology is advancing everywhere, and that means more risk for hackers to sneak in.
A new boot camp in Las Vegas is teaching people to “be the hacker.” The idea is learn what hackers are doing, in order to get ahead of them.
Clifford Richardson showed FOX5 a small computer that can tap into anything, if a hacker knows how to use it. He is the coordinator of the cyber security boot camp at the Desert Research Institute.
“It's possible to hack into anything,” he said.
Recent hacks into home security cameras, even the City of Las Vegas, has put the importance of cyber security in the headlines.
“The reality is that the attacks get worse,” Dan Manson said. Manson is a researcher at DRI.
Manson added Las Vegas and casinos specifically are attractive targets.
“We grew up loving technology, we can't live without it,” he said. “But those who want to do us harm realize that and they turn it against us.”
To "beat the bad guys," DRI is helping students hone their hacking skills.
“We need to know how to protect our systems, but that’s not how we’re trained,” DRI Education Program Manager Meghan Collins said. “We had an incident where some software was downloaded from a drone and it got into our system. It created some problems. And that was what instigated our desire to teach the next generation of scientists.”
That’s why DRI is giving 15 college students across the valley control of the computers.
“Banging our head against the wall and really trying to figure out what we're doing is honestly the best way to learn,” UNLV student Alira Coffman said. “Even now days, we're allowing a lot more technology into our homes and that's allowing a lot more ability for people to be in our homes as well. My group talked about the security camera hacks where people were talking to children through something we allowed in our home to protect us. It wasn't doing its job so I think companies really need to start thinking about security, but so do consumers.”
In Las Vegas there are more than 2,000 openings and not enough workers to fill those jobs and protect the valley’s data.
“We need to develop the good guys so that they can hold their own against the bad guys,” Manson said. “The bad guys have a passion to do bad. We need the good guys to have as much passion to be the protectors.”
This is DRI’s first year holding this boot camp.