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HPE Targets Girl Scouts for Next-Gen White Hats

A new cybersecurity curriculum targeting junior Girl Scouts aged 9-11 aims to shift the image of the young girls in green from cookie distributors to cyber defenders, according to news from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).

HPE has teamed up with the Girl Scouts to launch a cybersecurity education program specifically for young girls to learn and test out their cyber savvy using a newly debuted interactive online game. The game is dubbed Cyber Squad, and the program is initially being rolled out with Girl Scouts of Nation’s Capital, in counties throughout Washington D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.

The narrative game was custom-designed specifically for the Girl Scouts pro bono by HPE’s women in cybersecurity group. Cyber Squad takes players through mock scenarios and simulates the consequences of both risky and safe online behaviors.

At a time when 86% of girls engage in online chats unbeknownst to their parents, this new educational tool is critical to keeping young women safe online. Given that 69% of teens regularly receive electronic exchanges from strangers and don’t share that information with their parents, they are becoming increasingly vulnerable to negative online behaviors and privacy risks. In fact, according to HPE’s press release, 27% of young people willingly agree to in-person meetings with someone they have only met online.

“Kids are becoming more mobile, networked and connected, but this also comes with alarming risks and dangers. Making basic cybersecurity awareness at a young age is imperative, and as fundamental as safety skills in the physical world, like learning how to cross the street,” said HPE chief information security officer Liz Joyce in a press release.

“As someone who tackles cyber risks and crime by day and goes home to a young daughter at night, I know just how critical this education is. Through this collaboration, we hope to arm Girl Scouts with the cybersecurity literacy and knowledge they need to be savvy, secure and safe online, and to empower them to be good digital citizens.”

To address the growing concerns of online behavior and communication, the curriculum will cover four crucial areas, including personal information and digital footprint, online safety, privacy and security, and cyber-bullying.

Those Girl Scouts who complete the game and a corresponding curriculum (taught via troops) will earn an embroidered patch for their uniforms certifying their newfound knowledge. The curriculum and game are intended to foster cyber and STEM smarts in fun and relatable way.

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