The Next Stage For Cyber Education

Navigating a world made remote by COVID-19 has brought all sorts of new challenges to light—but amid struggles to adapt and socially distance, there are those determined to make the best of it.

Jonathan Slater and Lorna Armitage, industry professionals in the U.K., are taking the opportunity to give homeschooled kids a crash course in cybersecurity. Launched in late March, the virtual “Cyber School” hosts daily 45-minute livestreams featuring topics such as an introduction to coding and algorithms, safe Internet practices, and even concepts like ethical hacking and social engineering.

Slater and Armitage are just two of a mounting number of cybersecurity experts who, in the wake of increased cyber threats due to COVID, are stepping in to educate the public. Others have volunteered their services by providing threat data to the health sector or hunting down malware developed to take advantage of the pandemic.

Leading up to the Cyber School’s launch on March 30, the program had already enrolled thousands, and had three pending requests from schools in the U.K. to enroll their entire student bodies.

Back In Session

This is hardly the U.K.’s first stint with cybersecurity education. Last year, national law enforcement introduced a program that would give teenagers involved in illegal hacking the opportunity to join ethical hacking groups and receive career mentoring.

Now, the U.K. government has given the Cyber School permission to offer its classes globally, including lab activities through EC-Council designed to provide hands-on learning about offensive and defensive cybersecurity. These activities could incorporate red-teaming, blue-teaming, and network defense.

On a more personal level, the Cyber School aims to engage kids who may be feeling weary of homeschool content, and provide a bit of reprieve for parents feeling fatigued by their heightened responsibilities at home. The parents are also welcome to follow along and learn about cybersecurity, Armitage said.

The school’s varied programs make use of gamification tactics, working in badges, leadership boards, and other forms of external motivation for participating students. Slater and Armitage want to combine engaging mechanics with genuine, analytical perspectives on cybersecurity.

With a troubling lag on education for subjects that aren’t considered part of a “standard” curriculum—typically anything outside of math, science, English, social studies, and a foreign language—the school’s founders hope their efforts will bolster any shortages in global cybersecurity talent once the world starts to return to normal.

The Education Connection

Slater and Armitage’s program is one of the most recent developments in cybersecurity education, now more vital than ever in a heightened risk environment. As the industry evolves to address the uncertain landscape of remote work and cyber threats, now is the time to ensure that your organization is ready to rebound.

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