The cultivation of cyber-hygiene is invaluable in preparing young children for the cyber-unknown. It can decrease the effectiveness of many cyberattacks. Unfortunately, the quality of education—and cyber-education, more specifically—is not entirely consistent around the world. Yet,in our interconnected, digital world, cybersecurity education is essential in a school’s curriculum and must not be overlooked.

 

Cybercrime is not going away. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the predicted annual cost for global cybercrime in 2021 is $6 trillion, up from $3 trillion in 2015. It is the single largest transfer of economic wealth in history. Unfortunately, a large portion of those attacks is phishing. In fact, due to the ongoing pandemic, there has been a 30,000% increase in overall cybercrime, with 85% of that being phishing attacks. Even simple cybersecurity awareness measures would substantially reduce the likelihood of being a victim of such attacks. Thus, implementing cybersecurity learning is imperative to reducing risk of becoming a victim.

 

The pandemic has dramatically shifted the learning paradigm. Many companies and academic institutions have provided educational resources to assist students in a home-learning environment. But remote learning has created a new reality: more humans of all ages who are easily exploitable due to a lack of cyber-awareness. However, introducing proper cyber-hygiene in an individual’s prime learning stage is key to growing the next generation with cyber-related cognizance. Repeated learning throughout the school’s curriculum will allow for cyber-awareness to become secondhand knowledge, so schools can focus on building new technologies with less worry about being hacked as a result of a phishing attack.

 

Technology moves fast. Along with the onset of the pandemic, people, especially students, are automatically expected to know how to protect themselves online, but the reality is that cyber-awareness is often dependent on zip codes. Often in technology-destitute locations, there are more fundamental issues that push cyber-learning further back. For example, in California’s Merced country, 53% of children live in poverty, and 51% of the population are on Medi-Cal, which could suggest that underprivileged populations are more vulnerable to script-kiddie-level hackers than their counterparts due to a lesser focus on cyber-awareness. Moreover, small businesses, which make up most of these barren areas, are where nearly half the cyber-attacks occur.

 

Targeting the next generation with a raised level of cybersecurity is a start to reducing the number of victims from phishing attacks and overall cybercrime. The way to make sure that everyone gets involved in cybersecurity is through cyber-literacy. Cyber-awareness becoming second nature, no matter the educational pathway, is forever beneficial to a person’s life. Schools need to seek additional funding or partnerships with organizations to ensure this discipline is both brought into and stays in educational programs across the country.
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