Hackers Beware! New Girl Scout Badge Tackles Cyber Security

While selling cookies will always be a staple of Girl Scouts culture and education, there are some new cookies for these scouts to worry about, and they’re on the web. Girl Scouts as young as age five are now being offered the opportunity to earn the first cyber security badges in the organization’s history.

Girl Scouts of the USA announced in a recent press release that U.S. Girl Scouts who master the required skills can now earn the first of 18 cyber security badges to be released in September 2018. The program, developed in partnership with Palo Alto Networks (PANW.N), will reach an estimated 1.8 million Girl Scouts, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade.

Sylvia Acevedo, the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, explained that the program was developed with a specific goal in mind.

“In our increasingly tech-driven world, future generations must possess the skills to navigate the complexities and inherent challenges of the cyber realm,” Acevedo said in the release.

Considering that between 75% and 80% of all malicious attacks come from within an organization, cyber security skills are becoming a necessity in nearly every field where the Internet is involved. It’s not simply a matter of making a website look good anymore. Although web design still matters — 94% of people cited bad web design as the reason they rejected a website — it is only a single piece of the ever-growing digital puzzle.

Of course, security is only half of the reason this program was developed. According to a recent study by (ISC)2, an international nonprofit focused on cyber security, women hold only 11% of cyber security positions globally. With that in mind, the Girl Scouts program is tackling barriers like gender and geography that might prevent people from entering the field.

But not every skill will be learned at once. With a total of 18 potential badges to earn, there’s a variety of skill sets every scout has the opportunity to learn. For example, Daisies and Brownies might learn the basics of computers, while Juniors and Cadets will likely learn more about computer viruses and how cyber security breaches occur. And at the highest levels, Seniors may study psychological manipulation works in phishing scams and other more complex topics of that nature.

And these skills won’t go unused, either. With an ever-increasing focus on the digital world, cyber security professionals are in high demand. According to Suzanne Harper, senior director of the Scouts’ national STEM strategy, this program will prepare young scouts for a potential career path in the cyber security industry.

“It’s clear from the daily news that the world — companies, government, hospitals — has a need for strong cybersecurity and there’s actually a great need for cybersecurity professionals,” Harper told USA Today. “These badges are going to address the needs that girls have and the world has.”

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