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Why the Girl Scouts Are Learning to Pick Locks and Hack Computers

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The Girl Scouts will be unveiling Cybersecurity badges this summer! Via Popular Mechanics

Forget cookies. America’s Girl Scouts are learning to pick locks and hack computers as an inside track toward careers in science and tech

Laura Genung works the sliver of metal inside a padlock, probing the pins inside. “I’m so close I can feel it,” the 17-year-old Girl Scout says, exasperated.

This catches the attention of her lockpicking instructor, Kellie Robinson. Robinson has come to this Cyber Camp at Collin College, a community college just outside of Dallas, to steer young girls toward the booming information security profession. She’s been running a lockpicking program at monthly Dallas Hackers Association meetings for two years and does presentations at information security conferences. But teaching Girl Scouts to pick locks, hack computers, break zip-ties, and escape handcuffs is something new.

“If you let off the tensioner, those pins will drop,” Robinson tells Genung. “Just take a deep breath, chill for a minute. Tell yourself it’s just a lock.” A few minutes later, her pupil cries out in triumph as the lock pops open in her hand.

Hacking for Good
This weeklong Girl Scout Cyber Camp is the first in the region and among the first in the nation. Soon the badges will follow. The Girl Scouts, along with Palo Alto Networks, will be unveiling its official Cybersecurity badges for Daisy, Brownie and Junior (grades K through 5) Girl Scouts this summer. Badges for Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors (grades 6 to 12) will roll out in 2019.

These camps are at the forefront of the movement to build a conduit for Girl Scouts and and careers in science, engineering, science and math (STEM.) “I’m hoping I’m showing young women like the Girl Scouts that they can become leaders in this field,” Robinson says. “And that it goes so far beyond just sitting at a computer.”

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