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Thursday, Jun 1, 2023
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Girl Scouts Earn Cyber Badges, Learn About Careers

CYBERSECURITY: Saturday Event Featured White Hat Hacking

With the FBI reporting a 300% increase in cybercrimes since the pandemic began—many aimed at children and families—it is more critical than ever to teach our children about cybersecurity and online safety. The San Diego cyber community is heeding the call!

On April 1, Cyber Center of Excellence (CCOE) in collaboration with the Girl Scouts San Diego, Booz Allen Hamilton and First Citizens Bank hosted a three-hour interactive workshop for 60 San Diego Girl Scouts – from fourth to eighth grades. The workshop offered the Juniors and Cadettes the opportunity to earn all three of the cybersecurity badges – basics, safeguards and investigator. The badge sessions were led by 13 San Diego cybersecurity professionals, including leaders from Booz Allen Hamilton, ESET, First Citizens Bank, Haiku, INDUS Technology and Qualcomm.

Through interactive, industry-led activities including the World of Haiku cybersecurity videogame, the girls learned how to stay safe and keep information private online. They also flexed their investigative skills to help spot problems and vulnerabilities in the cyber world. And best of all, the girls were armed with a toolkit to teach and encourage their families, friends and communities to be more cyber savvy and secure online.

Enthusiastic Responses

“My favorite part was the challenge of pretending to hack into something,” said one Junior Girl Scout after participating in the session.

“As a woman working in the cybersecurity industry, the opportunity to co-lead cybersecurity badge training for the Girl Scouts was an incredibly rewarding experience,” said a manager with ESET North America. “I was surprised the girls already knew so much about technology and coding, and seeing their excitement and curiosity as they learned even more was truly inspiring and left a lasting impact on me.”

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With the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) reporting a global shortfall of cyber professionals to the tune of 3.5 million, and with 10,000 current openings in San Diego, and only about a quarter of the workforce representing women and minorities, it is critical to both seed and diversify the cyber talent pipeline.

In addition to earning their cybersecurity badges, the Girl Scouts learned about the different roles, in-demand skill sets and career pathways available in the high-paying field of cybersecurity. The industry experts inspired the girls with their personal career stories.

“The future looks bright,” said one of the day’s leaders, a cybersecurity engineer with Qualcomm. “I really enjoyed making a positive impact with each participant and helping them develop new cybersecurity skills.”

“My favorite part was all of it because I love learning about anything related to computers,” said one Cadette Girl Scout.

Three hours + three badges + 60 Girl Scouts = countless light bulb moments, smiles and lasting connections.

Many thanks to the volunteers and sponsors Booz Allen Hamilton and First Citizens Bank for investing in our future cyber warriors and helping create a more secure digital community for all!

Lisa Easterly is president and CEO of the Cyber Center of Excellence in San Diego.

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