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Cybersecurity: Denial-of-Service Attack

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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
9-12 students
Active Time
60 minutes
Total Time
60 minutes
Area of Science
Computer Science
Key Concepts
Cybersecurity, Using Models to Study a Problem
Learning Objectives
  • Execute a denial-of-service attack on a model of a computer network.
  • Determine quantitative metrics that can measure the impact of a denial-of-service attack.
  • Design and test a solution to prevent a denial-of-service attack on a model of a computer network.
internet hacked binary image

Overview

Have you or your students ever felt frustrated at not being able to access a favorite website or online game? Did you realize the site might have been a victim of a cyber-attack? If you aren't careful about online security, your own computer could even be used to launch the attack! In this fun lesson plan, you and your students will model one type of attack (a denial-of-service attack) and figure out how to protect the network against it (no computer programming required)!

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions. A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it.

There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.

Sometimes parts of different solutions can be combined to create a solution that is better than any of its predecessors.

ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution. The iterative process of testing the most promising solutions and modifying what is proposed on the basis of the test results leads to greater refinement and ultimately to an optimal solution.
Systems and System Models. Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy and matter flows within systems.

Systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems.

Models are limited in that they only represent certain aspects of the system under study.

Credits

Sabine De Brabandere, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


This Cyber-attack activity uses easy to find simple materials.

To share with the entire class:

  • Timer

Needed for each group of 9–12 students:*

  • Colored construction paper, 9 by 12 inches (5–8 distinctly different colors; 10 sheets of one color, 4 sheets of all other colors.)
  • Scissors or paper cutter
  • Server queue printout (2)
  • Processing paper printout (3)
  • Clear tape
  • Small boxes (2) to collect 1 ½ by 2 inch cards. (Note: Some groups might need an additional set of 2 boxes)
  • Permanent marker
  • Student desks (6–9)
  • Pen or pencil (one per participant)

* This activity works best with groups of 9-12, but can work with groups of 7-14 participants. For smaller groups, reduce the number participants acting as client and/or as Internet by one. For larger groups, add clients and ask all clients to write their name and street on each request. See Explore section for explanation of different roles.

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Grade Range
6th-8th
Group Size
9-12 students
Active Time
60 minutes
Total Time
60 minutes
Area of Science
Computer Science
Key Concepts
Cybersecurity, Using Models to Study a Problem
Learning Objectives
  • Execute a denial-of-service attack on a model of a computer network.
  • Determine quantitative metrics that can measure the impact of a denial-of-service attack.
  • Design and test a solution to prevent a denial-of-service attack on a model of a computer network.

Class Materials