Stephen E. Arnold: NSA Youth Outreach Program

Ethics, Government, Military
Stephen E. Arnold
Stephen E. Arnold

NSA Youth Outreach

In the swirl of information about the NSA, some interesting chunks of data get lost. I am not referencing the fascinating assertion that the NSA cannot search its own emails. (You can find the details of this possibly inaccurate but quite amusing story at

Like Fish & Wildlife, the NSA has a youth communication program in place. One of the facets of this initiative is called Change the World. The subsite of ( provides information about an online competition for those in middle and high school. There is a word puzzle, a “print your own cipher disk”, and information about substitution ciphers. (A substitution cipher is a method of encryption by which units of plain text are replaced by text according to an assembly recipe. For more information Princeton University offers additional information at The NSA site does not explain this to the 6th to 12th graders. I assume that any child looking at will have a working knowledge of cipher methodologies.

The most interesting item on the NSA subsite offers:

Be a savvy social networker! First thing for any savvy social networker is to access your own privacy and security settings so that only people you know can access your social networking site. If you are involved in social gaming with people you don’t know, stay in control and stay comfortable. Stay in disguise and if you suspect someone is “gaming” you or asking too many personal questions, tell your parents or a trusted adult. Keep track of what the person is saying, but do not communicate or send chats to them. Do you download “cheat” programs that promise information to how to perform better or beat a game? Sometimes cheat downloads are used to implant a virus or malware on your computer!

The footer to the Web page contains the standard NSA tag and a 2009 date stamp.

Stephen E Arnold, July 29, 2013

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