Networking For The Future: Is Enough Being Done to Teach Our Children About Online Security?

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Computer security is a constant source of debate and scrutiny. You only have to look at recent news that Windows is planning to retire the XP operating system. This is important news as it represents a potential security issue when you factor in that 30% of the world’s computers still use XP.

It seems almost every day there’s another computer risk story appearing. The American National Security Agency is alleged to be planning to infect millions of computers through malicious software.

Or how about that a mysterious virus had infected thousands of computers across Europe and Russia in 2008, causing massive damage. It’s only now being made public. The public tend to assume that hacking is not as damaging because no one actually gets hurt in a physical sense. Well, recently, a Malaysian aircraft has been lost at sea with 239 people on board. One of the potential causes points to the hacking of critical on-board systems.

It’s difficult to know where the lies end and the truth begins. Although many countries, governments and businesses are now starting to increase their ability to protect computer systems online, the question is what happens now? And what happens to the next generation of computer users? Should they not be prepared as early as possible on how to protect themselves online?

Cyber Security Lessons

Whilst children are probably not going to understand complicated security practices such as file encryption or data loss prevention, the UK government is proposing to initiate plans to teach youngsters the basics of computer security and its benefits.

Showing great foresight and a pressing need to close the emerging skills shortage in that sector,  new learning materials will be available to children from 11 years old that highlight careers in cyber-security.

This serves two purposes; it will give the next generation an understanding of how to protect themselves online, whilst also addressing the current and future lack of skilled workers in this field.

Graham Cluley, who is a security consultant, addressed this initiative, saying: “By ensuring cyber-security is integral to education at all ages, we will help equip the UK with the professional and technical skills we need for long-term economic growth.”

The scheme would also involve apprenticeships for older children, combined with work experience roles at computer businesses and firms.

Online habits

This potentially marks a turning point in how our children use technology, computers and the internet at large. Practically speaking, we cannot monitor our children’s activities constantly. By giving them the tools and information needed to make informed decisions regarding what is safe what is not when online, we are creating a protective barrier. This not only safeguards them from potential harm, but works to make the UK less of a target for cyber-crime in the upcoming years.

Currently, children have access to around five different screens and monitors at home. And this is at 10 years-old. The proliferation of computer technology is only going to increase. By preparing children for both the possibilities and the pitfalls of technology, we are preparing them for a safer future.

What do you think? Are we doing enough or can we do more?

About the Author

This post was written by Jake Messer on behalf of HANDD, a company specialising in Data Security and Managed File Transfer solutions. 

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Nick Barnett

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