Cybersecurity remains one of the most challenging subjects to develop accessible curricula for students in homeland security, emergency preparedness, and security-oriented degree programs. This article describes the development of a unique experiential learning opportunity that helps students overcome one of the most challenging learning objectives in such coursework: the conceptualization of sophisticated cyber operations. The hack-along is a simulated cyber operation exercise. Cyber experts guide students through multiple scenarios highlighting attacker and defender perspectives. Students ask detailed questions and discuss operational planning and decision-making strategies resulting in higher levels of student content engagement. 


Christopher Whyte

Christopher Whyte is an Assistant Professor of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at Virginia Commonwealth University. His research focuses on the decision-making dynamics of cyber operations, the role of fringe virtual space in supporting influence campaigns, and the impact of artificial intelligence on cyber conflict dynamics. Christopher is the author/co-author of nearly thirty peer-reviewed articles on these subjects and three books on cyber conflict, including Information in War: Military Innovation, Battle Networks, and The Future of Artificial Intelligence.

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No. 3 Developing the “Hack-Along”: Overcoming Experiential Obstacles for Cybersecurity Students in Homeland Security Programs