Volunteer Program Enlists Security Experts To Teach in Schools

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A new volunteer program aims to enlist cybersecurity experts and IT security professionals to donate their time and expertise to help educate students about Internet security and safety. The Cyber Security Awareness Volunteer Education Program (C-SAVE), created by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), will send volunteers into schools to teach kids how to protect themselves and their personal information online.

The new program also endeavors to introduce students to the possibility of cybersecurity as a profession; as part of the lesson plans, presenters are encouraged to talk about their job and the path they took to get to where they are.

"There is an Internet safety and security knowledge gap," said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the NCSA. "As we evolve into web based culture, our schools have not kept pace in teaching our youth to develop the skills they need to stay safe and secure online."

According to data from "2008 K-12 National Cyberethics, Cybersafety, Cybersecurity Baseline Study," a research project by NCSA, only 18 percent of K-12 curriculum discusses identity theft and only 22 percent of teachers are comfortable teaching about cyberbullying.

"In these difficult financial times, C-SAVE provides schools with a cost-free opportunity to enrich the education experience and help improve the everyday lives of both their students and their teachers," Kaiser said. "It also provides information security professionals a wonderful opportunity to give back to their community."

As part of the program, NCSA has designed curriculum that can be targeted at students in all grade levels. The organization has also developed a list of resources to help teachers and administrators to continue the conversation about security with their students and their students' parents.

"We are living in a time when many of our children know much more about how to use the technology than their teachers and parents," said Bill Sanderson, principal of the International Studies Academy high school in San Francisco. "Most of our students spend more time on the computer each day then they do watching television. School and parents have a responsibility to ensure that students can use computers safely.

"C-SAVE will help better educate our children by leveraging the expertise of those who bring significant life experience making computers more secure. In turn, this program will also allow our teachers to better understand the online challenges our students face and better prepare them to harness the power of the Internet safely and securely."

Among the volunteers, EMC Corp., which sells data center technology, has encouraged its cybersecurity experts to participate in C-SAVE. Twenty-five 25 EMC security practitioners have already agreed to volunteer at schools around the country.

"There is no doubt that both our nation's students and teachers need assistance when it comes to Internet safety and security," said Roland Cloutier, VP and chief security office of EMC. "Companies such as EMC and others have a vast amount of resources that can not only help to keep our children safer online, but also foster a better understanding of the responsibilities one must embrace when using the Internet."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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