Securing Tomorrow: Empowering the Next Generation in Cybersecurity
By: Rachana, Kamat
In today’s digital age, where technology plays a pivotal role in our lives, it has become crucial to prioritize cybersecurity education from a young age. By introducing kids to the fundamentals of cybersecurity, online safety and cyber kindness early on, we can empower them to navigate the digital world safely and become responsible digital citizens. In this blog post, how Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) Massachusetts Affiliate is working towards the “Grow and Develop” theme for the year 2023 to encourage young minds to be curious about the cybersecurity field. Furthermore, we will discuss the significance of community college collaboration in fostering a strong and supportive cybersecurity community.
The Importance of Early Cybersecurity Education:
In an era dominated by interconnected devices and online platforms, children are exposed to potential cyber threats. By educating kids about the basics of cyber safety, we can instill in them the knowledge and skills necessary to protect themselves and their personal information. Teaching concepts like safe online behavior, recognizing phishing attempts, and understanding personal zone and privacy can go a long way in safeguarding their digital lives.
WiCyS Massachusetts had an amazing time at the recent Girl Scouts of Eastern MA STEM FEST where we set up a booth to educate young girls about the importance of cyber safety through online games.
We had Google Interland games that taught them to fight against cyber-bullying, online safety and safeguarding secrets through a series of engaging and fun gameplays. One of the most rewarding moments for us was hearing these young girls say, “I didn’t know that cybersecurity is so fun!” and asking curious questions like “What is a firewall? Is there a fire in the wall?” We loved teaching them about security keywords through word search and encouraged them to ask questions. It’s exactly these kinds of responses that motivates us to continue our efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive cybersecurity industry.
“Grow and Develop” Theme by WiCyS MA
Our leadership board decided to work towards a theme for the year 2023 and create calendar events that will be the milestones to achieve this objective. Being from Massachusetts and surrounded with academia, we recognized the need to encourage young minds to explore cybersecurity as a potential career path. The “Grow and Develop” theme introduced by WiCyS focuses on providing opportunities for young girls to engage with cybersecurity concepts in a supportive and inclusive environment. Through conferences, WiCyS aims to inspire and empower girls to explore this vast field of cybersecurity one exploration at a time.
WiCyS MA is working to provides a platform for girls to build confidence in their abilities, gain exposure to the industry through collaborations with other groups such as ISSA NE, TowerHall, Boston College and Junior Tech to not only represent our community but also was a great opportunity for our WiCyS members to attend Information Security Summit, BC Conference on Cybersecurity and STEM Summit respectively over the month of June. As a recap, our members were able to introduce themselves to Zero Trust, Incidence Response, Privacy, Cyber Law to name a few of the various topics discussed in these conferences.
Community College Collaboration:
To further strengthen the cybersecurity community, collaboration with community colleges plays a crucial role. Community colleges serve as valuable resources by offering affordable and accessible education in cybersecurity. By partnering with community colleges. We believe this collaboration will not only empower aspiring students but also help build a strong community of fostering knowledge sharing and a supportive ecosystem.
Through our summer series – “Brews & Bytes”, we are working to cater to the community college teachers, students and mentors by introducing them to organizations such as CyberTrust and MassTech who are working towards the same objective of creating opportunities for aspiring professionals and nurturing a supportive network. Some of the topics that these speaker series will be covering are “Courage and Consciousness in Cybersecurity”, “Understanding Software Supply Chain Risk Assessments”, “Threat Modeling AI and ML for Resilience” and many more!
Our next generation is our future and our future definitely looks promising with these curious and young minds. Remember, girls belong in all places where decisions are being made, and we know that cybersecurity is no exception!
Young girls with dreams so bright
Endless possibilities in their sight
Inspired to reach for the stars
Breaking barriers, shattering bars.
So let’s continue to inspire
And fuel their burning desire
For young girls with dreams so bright
Will shape a world that’s filled with light!!