Group says kids should learn cybersecurity

Cyber Security Industry Alliance says students should learn to be good cybercitizens with lessons on online security, ethics and safety.

Teaching Children Cyber Security and Ethics

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Elementary and high school students already learn the three Rs: reading, writing and 'rithmetic. They should also learn the three Cs: cybersecurity, cyberethics and cybersafety, a prominent cybersecurity advocacy group has recommended.

“Just as we teach our children to be good citizens in the physical world, we also need to teach them to be good cybercitizens,” said Laura Brown, director of education and awareness at the Cyber Security Industry Alliance. Children need to know to protect themselves and computer systems -- and know the difference between right and wrong, she said.

The alliance released a report this week announcing its intent to work with the federal government and state, public and private partners on the Cyber Awareness Program.

“A coordinated, national-level cyberawareness program is needed to help bring more effective cybersecurity, ethics and safety education to our nation’s children, and improve the general state of cybersecurity in the United States,” said Paul Kurtz, the alliance’s executive director, in the statement.

The program would be similar in scope and scale to the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign and the No Child Left Behind program, Brown said.

The report recommends that Congress order the Education and Homeland Security departments to create a joint program to promote cyberawareness to children. DHS would take the lead in building partnerships between teachers and parents and public and private organizations, Brown said. All partners would contribute funding, which DHS would coordinate, she said.

Children need information and guidance about cybersecurity but don’t have a single, coordinated source, Brown said. “What’s out there is good, but parents and teachers don’t know where to access it,” she said.

The Cyber Awareness Program would use multimedia to attract students’ attention and teach them about cybersecurity, Brown said. In the report, the group urged the Bush administration and Congress to encourage gaming companies to create cybersecurity-themed products to assist schools in implementing the program.

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