This is a reprint of an article I wrote for New Hampshire Business Review in June 2017 outlining the need to make cybersecurity education part of our school curriculum.
With so many Cities and Towns across the US paying hefty ransoms this year and more than 1900 breaches reported as of May 31st, 2019 for this year alone, preparing our students with some rudimentary Cybersecurity skillsets has never been more critical and provided the potential for a strategic advantage. Historians will look back at the 21st century as a transitional period where traditional Brick and Morter businesses redefined themselves with eCommerce, online goods and services or they went the way of the buggy. Will the US be known for the quality of employees it produced prepared for the 21st century challenges we all face or will we be left behind as nothing more than a footnote to some other country that does better?
Finally, be sure to tune into the Enterprise Security Weekly podcast today when CyberHoot Co-Founder Craig Taylor is interviewed by Matt Alderman on the topic of Cybersecurity Awareness Training.
Students Must Learn How to Protect Themselves Online
Do you think about cybersecurity training in your son or daughter’s K-12 school? If not, you should be.
Take it from a cybersecurity veteran, we are not preparing our kids to spot and defend against online attacks, nor are we educating them on the best protective measures either.
Schools do a decent job teaching children about some cybersecurity topics including:
— The harm of cyber bullying
— Why you should never sext (send nude photos by text)
— Understanding important privacy issues on Facebook and other social media platforms
It is important to learn about these topics, but schools mostly fail to educate students on the fundamentals of 21st century online cybersecurity risks. Passwords, password management and password tools are rarely, if ever, discussed. Learning the fundamentals of a phishing or social engineering attack are woefully absent from our basic computer curriculum.
Why is it Important?
Why is it important to educate young students about these threats and to teach them necessary habits of online protection? Learning online protective habits early matters a great deal. From a cybersecurity perspective, the internet is the great equalizer for all nations, peoples and groups. It is cheaper and easier than ever before in the history of the world for an anonymous attacker to target anyone, any business, located anywhere in the world.
Whether you’re a cybersecurity expert like myself, youngster playing online games or parent checking their bank account, the risks we all face come in many shapes and sizes. For all its conveniences and efficiencies, the internet has no borders or boundaries. For criminals it has become a revival of the Wild West – a frontier where policing and the law are usually one or two steps behind emboldened and very smart hackers.
A Pew Center study on cybersecurity in 2017 highlighted a troubling dichotomy among adults. The study found that while most Americans have directly experienced some form of data theft or fraud, many admit they “are failing to follow digital security best practices in their own personal lives, and a substantial majority expects that major cyberattacks will be a fact of life in the future.”
While teaching our children as early as possible is imperative, the good news is we’re not talking rocket science. The rules of cybersecurity are as easy to learn as it is to drive a car, and just as safe driving is tied to defensive driving, so too is the need to defensively operate our computers today.
Fortunately, schools and students are beginning to recognize this need. A series of investigative stories on the IT website FedScoop.com highlighted the challenges and opportunities of integrating cybersecurity literacy into school technology curriculum as early as possible. “Using technology is one of the three ‘Rs’ of the 21st century,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, referring to the traditional subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic. “If you don’t graduate from high school knowing how to use technology, it’s going to be a hindrance in the same way if you don’t know how to read.”
Making basic cybersecurity literacy a new ‘R’ in school curriculum will expose students to lessons that can last a lifetime and teach them critical steps to protect themselves. The time to create good cybersecurity habits is when children first begin operating a computer. Rather than trying to “unlearn” bad habits (as identified in the Pew study) we should build a strong foundation of cybersecurity literacy skills in our students as early as possible.
We can do a better job of preparing our students to enter the workforce with a strong set of cybersecurity literacy skills. We can begin with a focus on the topics mentioned earlier: passwords, their management and tools, as well as understanding social engineering and phishing attacks. Engaged and enlightened students with a modicum of cybersecurity literacy will make a huge difference in creating a workforce prepared to defend against the daily cyberattacks in our homes and businesses of today and tomorrow.
Craig, Co-Founder – CyberHoot
Editor’s Call to Action: two years on from my original article, the state of Cybersecurity in our Cities, Towns, and Business is no better; in fact it’s gotten much worse. If you’re a City, Town or Business Manager/Owner and you want a simple solution to attack this problem proactively, putting the odds in your favor instead of the hackers out there, sign-up for free training for 30 days at CyberHoot.com. Or, contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or want a reseller to setup and run your training program for you. We have both options available.
I encourage anyone who will listen to deal with this problem head-on – train your employees and take control of your destiny by improving your employee odds of recognizing an attack and avoiding it.
For the Month of July 2019, anyone who signs up for free training will get 2 months free. We’re so confident you’ll love our solution we’re willing to give it away free for 60 days to convince you! Try it to be certain. You’ll be glad you did.