ATLANTA — Data shows that other countries are better educated in computer science than in the United States.
That could be one of the reasons why it's so easy for other countries to hack into our computers, systems and our companies.
One of the most notorious hackers in the world was even caught at Atlanta's airport.
Sasha Panin, a young Russian, is a computer genius.
Federal agents arrested him at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in 2013 on charges he created SpyEye, a program that infected more than a million computers worldwide, stealing banking, credit card numbers and personal information.
Some of his victims were in Atlanta. Former FBI agent Mark Ray told Channel 2's Tom Regan he tracked down the elusive hacker with a rockstar reputation.
"He was very well known among the cybercrime community globally,” Ray said. “So, his impact was very large in terms of malware he was providing to other criminals and his presence."
Ray told Regan as a child Panin excelled in computer science instruction in his Russian homeland, but used his skills to make millions through his destructive malware.
“He obviously, as we know, used that knowledge to develop something that cause a lot of harm to others,” Ray said.
Over a 10-year period, the number of students in Russia who took an advanced placement computer science exam nearly doubled the amount in the U.S.
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Experts said information technology training for young students in the country is not a high priority.
"American schools don't do that," SANS Institute president Allen Paller said. "They don't do it in middle school and rarely do it in high school."
Only 10 states require high schools to offer computer science according to Code.org.
Georgia isn't among them, but with the launch of the new computer science principles course the number of students taking AP Computer Science in the state has doubled, from just over 2,000 to nearly 4,000 students last year.
"It very much is a response to the growing need for students to have some computer knowledge and computational thinking practices," Crystal Furman, who is on the college board, said.
"It's very important, because so much of our society being based on technology, there's so much room for improvement at malicious attacks," Kierra, a student, said.
Kierra told Regan she is taking AP Computer Science at Collins Hill School. Over 160 Georgia schools now teach the course.
"The earlier you start, the better outcome you'll have," Rona Williams, a teacher at Collins Hill said. "We're a little bit behind, and we're trying to play catch up."
Student Ethan Frazier said cyber-attacks on critical facilities underscore the need for more advanced computer training.
"The more technology you know, the more you can prevent that from happening and solve the problem," Frazier said.
The Georgia Department of education told Channel 2 Action News, they've added multiple courses to their high school computer science offerings, including a set of high school CS courses that count for graduation credit.
They’re also in the process of creating K-8 computer science standards to complement their high school CS offerings.
By one estimate, there will be a global shortage of two million cyber security professionals next year, making cyber criminals like Panin a growing menace.
"Hacking or knowledge of cyber security can be used for good or bad," Ray said.
Cox Media Group