Op-Ed: Schools Must Lead The Way To Make Us All More Cyber Secure
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 -- Following is an op-ed from Ron Teixeira, executive director, National Cyber Security Alliance:
Schools Must Lead The Way To Make Us All More Cyber Secure
The familiar excuse that “the dog ate my homework” is now replaced, all too often, with “a virus infected my computer!” Thank goodness October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and entities from the federal and state government to the education and business communities have come together to educate consumers, including children, on ways to prevent viruses from infecting computers, better ensuring school children’s homework is safe and sound. Here’s what National Cyber Security Awareness Month means to America’s schools -- kindergarten through higher education.
The digital age has created new possibilities regarding the use computers and the Internet in education. Along with realizing the benefits such as preparing young people for 21st Century jobs, comes the security challenges associated with going online. In order to reap the benefits of technology in education, there must be a comfort level with both the safety of students online, and with the security of their personal information.
Unfortunately, while the teaching and application of technology skills has been handed to the classroom teacher, most educators need more skills and up-to-date information with regard to cyber security. This includes use of anti-virus software and creating secure passwords, ethical behavior, and protecting privacy, among other topics.
Furthermore, the speed with which students acquire information technology skills may be chronically outpacing educators’ abilities to ensure that positive computing habits are being formed. Therefore, cyber-awareness issues need to be integrated in the educational process beginning at an early age.
Every school needs to create and implement their own “culture of cyber security” every day, whenever teachers and students are online. However, in many instances, teachers model incorrect practices to their students. Not only does this increase the risks to the security of the teacher’s own classroom and local school system’s information systems, but it also increases the chances that students will mimic these behaviors.
School is the obvious place where students can learn effective cyber security skills and behaviors, and put them into practice under the guidance of knowledgeable adults. Teachers must also encourage students to play a key role to keep their home computers secure, and to behave appropriately online wherever they might be.
How can this be accomplished? Through ongoing education and the implementation of safety and awareness practices.
As a start, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is leading the charge toward cyber-awareness and has designated October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The NCSA is the go-to resource for cyber security awareness and education for individuals, small business, and education audiences. A public- private partnership, NCSA sponsors include the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Trade Commission, and many private- sector corporations and organizations.
The National Cyber Security Awareness Month will feature different fun, educational programs, and events nationwide. These include conferences, as well as school activities and resources for educators and students. To access the free educational resources visit the NCSA’s web site http://www.staysafeonline.org.
National Cyber Security Alliance
Contact: Mara Ritti, 415-975-2277, firstname.lastname@example.org
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