This week I had the privilege of visiting Washington, D.C., to attend the Committee for Economic Development (CED) Fall Policy Conference. The annual event invites policymakers, educators and industry leaders to come together and discuss some of the most pressing economic issues facing our country. This year, cybersecurity was all the buzz.
The 2014 conference also marked an important milestone for education and cybersecurity: We announced our partnership with Discovery Education to launch the new McAfee Digital Safety Program, a microsite designed to provide families and educators with the tools they need to teach kids safe Internet behaviors during a lunch discussion.
We were honored to have Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) deliver keynote remarks during the lunch where the program was announced. Rep. Langevin, who founded the House Cybersecurity Caucus, noted that younger Americans will grow up with the internet as an integral part of their lives, and must be taught safety in the same way that they are taught to wear seatbelts in cars or wear helmets on bikes.
I had a great discussion, moderated by our CMO Penny Baldwin, with Discovery Education CEO Bill Goodwyn on the human impact that this discussion can have on children, and we had an opportunity to Skype chat with students in a Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary, who were demoing the McAfee Digital Safety modules to great fanfare. The kids asked if the inventors of the modules were in the room, and it was great interacting with them.
With the influx of data breaches swarming the news, it’s no secret that we need creative solutions for our K-12 students if they’re going to stand a chance against our cyber-adversaries around the globe—and we need them fast. It is expected that by the year 2020, there will be approximately 1.4 million job openings in computer science across the United States; meanwhile, if things continue at the current rate, it is predicted that qualified U.S. college graduates will only be able to fill about a third of these, leaving more than 900,000 jobs in cybersecurity to be outsourced.
This begs the question: what can we do to prepare our young students today with the tools they will need to be successful in this highly connected, digital world tomorrow? As the largest dedicated security provider, we’ve made it our mission at McAfee to educate the communities in which we live by working with the National Cyber Security Alliance to create educational materials for children and parents. For years, employees have volunteered all around the world to teach children the importance of protecting themselves, their electronic devices and their reputation when they’re online. While our achievements have been impressive (we’ve taught more than 250,000 globally) there is more work to be done. By joining forces with the leading creator of digital education materials to provide interactive, standards-aligned, self-paced lessons to students at no cost, we’ve built a force to be reckoned with.
Thankfully, most of conference’s attendees agree that cybereducation needs to be present in more of our classrooms. Through the McAfee Digital Safety Program, we hope we are making it easy for teachers to squeeze the topic in among the hundreds of other standards they are expected to cover with their students.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to take a look at the McAfee Digital Safety Program Web site here, and spread the word: ThinkBeforeYouLinkInSchool.com