A Passion for Online Safety, Part 2

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After overviewing the (ISC)2 Safe and Secure Online program in Part 1, Peter Berlich interviews one of its leading lights

Julie Franz Peeler is director of the (ISC)2 Foundation, (ISC)2’s charitable arm, established in 2011 to manage Safe and Secure Online as one of three of the organization’s charitable endeavors. She works out of (ISC)2’s global headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, USA. Like many who work at (ISC)², she has an international background, originally coming from Germany. I recently got the opportunity to meet her at an (ISC)2 event in Du¨sseldorf.

The Director: Responding to the Need

Peeler’s career has featured jobs as a kindergarten teacher, in corporate marketing for global Fortune 500 companies and managing large, volunteer-driven endeavors. She joined the (ISC)2 Foundation as its inaugural director, managing its formation and growth, and securing its existence through a consistent fundraising effort.

Much of Peeler’s job is related to tasks that might seem boring at first: administration, quality assurance, licensing, providing resources and fundraising – lots of paperwork. But there is plenty of reward for her effort. She is consistently amazed every time she talks to volunteers who “have a passion deep in their bones. These people have been carrying an idea for a long time, before they knew there were programs like Safe and Secure Online. They are often willing to work tenaciously for years. I know some who have given more than 100 presentations.”

Peeler says that, for many volunteers, their work is its own reward. An afternoon in the classroom will change a person’s entire outlook. Volunteers receive appreciation from teachers, parents and pupils, and are seen as role models. They might even expose children to a possible career and show them how they could become security leaders in the future.

The main beneficiaries are not the volunteers, but school children, their parents and other caregivers. When a Safe and Secure Online presentation is given, conversations start happening in the classroom. Children open up, reveal what they are doing online and often disclose personal incidents. These conversations can involve very personal narratives like bullying, risky behavior or exposure to people they don’t know. It’s not unusual for these instances to lead to a school or parent taking further steps that open up the possibility for a child to cope with what he or she is experiencing. The children eagerly let volunteers know what they are doing to take more control over the risks they face.

“The Foundation has become a conduit through which our members and industry can touch society and have a real impact”Julie Franz Peeler, Director, (ISC)2 Foundation

The Foundation funds support for volunteers, including the maintenance of presentations, training and support materials, often with additional support from a local (ISC)2 chapter. “The Foundation has become a conduit through which our members and industry can touch society and have a real impact,” Peeler says.

The Foundation also works to give schools trust and confidence in the people they invite into their schools, ensuring volunteers have police checks where they are expected, respect expectations around child safety, can handle disturbing disclosures, and are effective at communicating with children.

Until the Foundation was established, Safe and Secure Online had been run as a project in the UK where (ISC)2 established an alliance with Childnet International, an organization with teachers on its staff who could offer their experiences in working with pupils.

It wasn’t long before (ISC)2 members around the world wanted to do the same. Moving the initiative under the umbrella of the Foundation enabled better focus and more rigorous management of the sprawling demand for global outreach. Now Safe and Secure Online reaches children, parents, and teachers, with active members in Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Switzerland, the UK and the US. The next countries aiming to introduce the program locally are Austria and Germany. (ISC)2 member groups and chapters all over the world are also organizing efforts to get involved.

Looking to the future, the (ISC)² Foundation aims not only to extend reach by connecting to more corporate funding partners, but also to support these volunteers with a much needed capacity for innovation. For example, (ISC)2 does not have many members in Africa, but does have a huge demand for Safe and Secure Online presentations.  Given the proliferation of mobile networks, even in rural areas, internet access is common.

“Our mission is to secure children by leveraging members’ information security skills and knowledge,” Peeler says. “Classroom presentations are not the only way to accomplish this. It may require out of the box thinking – quite literally.”

This, she says, is happening in a coordinated way with volunteers around the world: “They will help more children to have a safe and secure online experience.”

Anyone interested in learning how to get involved today can learn more here.

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