Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Preparing Girls to Lead in a Tech-Driven World, One Badge at a Time

Let’s face it. We live in a world dominated by computers. And while we protect our homes, cars, and other precious assets, how much do we think about protecting our digital footprint?

The facts are clear: the cybercrime economy has grown to make at least $1.5 trillion in profits each year. Moreover, cybersecurity spending is projected to increase by 9%.

At Girl Scouts, we help every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ become the decision makers of tomorrow! That’s why it’s crucial to expose girls to opportunities that help them find their place in a technology-driven world. In a few years, the current generation of girls will enter a workforce in great need of tech talent, as well as the confidence and innovative skills that Girl Scouts helps girls develop. This presents a huge opportunity!

Today we know that only 13% of Fortune 500 companies have women in top cybersecurity positions. But thanks to NEW Girl Scout cybersecurity programming, girls can prepare to become the chief information officers of the future. Yup! One cybersecurity badge at a time, she’ll make the world a better place.

But don’t take it from us; meet Girl Scout Camdyn. She’s currently a sixth-grader who has been a Girl Scout since kindergarten. Her troop completed three badges as part of the Cadette Cybersecurity Badge Pilot program (Cyber Basics, Cyber Safeguards, and Cyber Investigator). “They had a lot of fun doing hands-on activities that went along with these badges,” Camdyn says. She admits she “learned a ton of valuable information.” Check out what she had to say about the new Cybersecurity badges and why she recommends them to every Girl Scout.

Why should every Girl Scout earn the Cybersecurity badges?

I think every Girl Scout should complete these badges because all of us are on our phones and computers, downloading information and sharing information on a daily basis. We need to know how to do it in a safe manner so that no one can steal our identities or hack into our computers and phones. We should be able to keep our information private. Learning how to be safe on the internet and with apps was the best part of these badges!

What has this experience taught you, and why was it important?

We had a great time learning how to protect our passwords and how people learn ways to hack them. We also learned how easy it can be for people to figure out our credit card numbers when using them online. We loved learning how to protect ourselves while shopping online and how important it is to not share our passwords or to make them easy to figure out. The more complicated, the better! Girls! You should do this badge so that you can keep your information private and not be a victim of stolen credit card information or any other information, for that matter!

Tell us more about the Cadette Cyber Investigator badge.

This one was a lot of fun too and really opened our eyes to what we so easily share on social media, email, and texts. Really scary when we sat there and talked about it! Sending your information through texts and emails is like sending a postcard in the mail! Anyone can see it! Never send passwords or really private/important information. Someone can see it and use it in a bad way. Also, girls, careful with sending photos…[hackers] can figure out your location…and NEVER send or post when you are on vacation or will be going on vacation—who knows what can happen to your home when you are not there?! Be safe…the internet has a lot of people looking for ways to find out about YOU! Also, please be safe when using email…don’t just click on any links or open attachments that are sent to you. Always make sure they are from reliable sources—you can get a virus! So bad!

What are your takeaways after doing the Cadette Cyber Safeguards badge?

We learned about the importance of reading those REALLY long agreements when downloading apps. A lot of times you are agreeing to giving up your privacy…not a good thing to do, girls! There should be WAY shorter agreements that are WAY easier to read! Don’t just click “accept” without reading things first. No app is worth that! You also need to research each app before downloading it—no matter how cool or fun it seems. Make sure they are safe and age-appropriate.

So don’t wait! Help your girl unleash her inner cybersecurity expert, and start earning the new Girl Scout Cybersecurity badges! As the world becomes ever more reliant on technology to power our daily lives, and as humanity looks to computer science for new challenges and discoveries, it is more important than ever that the United States harnesses the unique insight, skills, and potential of girls in the STEM fields.

Special thanks to our friends at Palo Alto Networks for partnering with us! Through our partnership, we plan to educate hundreds of thousands of girls in grades K–12 about cybersecurity through newly developed Cybersecurity badges. This national effort is a huge step toward eliminating traditional barriers to technology industry access, such as gender and geography. The programming will target girls as young as five years old, helping ensure that even the youngest girls have a foundation primed for future life and career success.