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News

Online volunteer training for communicating security concerns to children

ISC Squared : 11 February, 2009  (New Product)
(ISC)2 attempts to bridge the gap in security advice which exists between IT security professionals and school children with online training program
(ISC)2 has announced the availability of an online volunteer training program designed to help information security professionals around the world communicate confidently and effectively with school children. Demonstrating a commitment to enhance responsible use of computers and the Internet, this child online safety program addresses the gap in security advice that all-too-often exists in safety outreach efforts.

The program, developed with the support of Childnet International, combines presentation materials for the classroom developed by former school teachers with practical advice on effectively communicating with children. It also addresses child protection issues for adults working with school children and the relevance of the subject areas to current educational curriculum. Tackling concerns that include social networking, cyberbullying, viral emails, spam, identity theft and more, the program is targeted at children aged 11-14 years of age. Once they have completed the training, volunteers gain access to and permission to use the presentation and supporting materials, all of which are updated regularly by Childnet, with consultation from the (ISC)2 community on current security issues.

"This program represents more than a community service effort for the professionals working in the field of information security," says John Colley, CISSP, managing director, EMEA, (ISC)2 "The promotion of a responsible online society will depend on such programs that can change behavior, forcing out the bad habits that leave people and companies vulnerable. Reaching school children, many of whom are the current technology experts in their homes, enhances a responsible culture for now and in the future."


The global volunteer training module reflects the experience of an existing volunteer program in the United Kingdom (UK). Launched by (ISC)2 in the autumn of 2006, the effort has reached over 7,000 students in interactive classroom groups. (ISC)2 volunteers have presented to schools near where they live and work across the UK, including the Channel Islands, Bournemouth, London and surrounding areas, Wales, Manchester, Leeds-Bradford, Fife and more. They have also attended parent evenings organised by schools and made presentations to teachers and district school boards. Many of the volunteers have been invited back to be included in the curriculum for a following term or academic year.

'In PSHE and citizenship classes, we cover a whole range of life skills and issues with children, but we don't claim to be the definitive experts on everything- especially the fast changing world of ICT!' says Janice Holdich, PSHE teacher with Neale Wade community College in March, Cambridgeshire. "So, whenever possible, we try to invite the professionals in to speak directly to students, and that's what the (ISC)2 program has been doing at Neale Wade for the last two years. The volunteers deliver professional, user-friendly, perfectly pitched presentations that students find really valuable and easy to understand. Students really appreciate the opportunity to fast-track their questions and concerns to an expert and take away sound advice about staying safe on the Internet."

"Teachers have a unique opportunity to educate young people on various issues around using the Internet, and not just ICT teachers," says, Childnet's schools manager Ellen Ferguson. "The Safe and Secure Online presentation is a real opportunity for them to gain support in covering this issue while bringing in an expert that is well placed to answer some of the savvy questions the kids come up with. "Incorporating the passion and technical knowledge information security professionals have for their field has worked really well, and we are very pleased to see this volunteer programme go further."

The child online safety program is one of a number of initiatives from (ISC)2 and its members to improve information security awareness as part of its mission to make the online world a safer place. Last year, (ISC)2 introduced the Cyber Exchange, an online security awareness resource centre where its members provide original materials that they have designed to educate end-users and the public is invited to download and use them for free.
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