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(ISC)² calls for more education on online reputation management

And, Infosecurity notes, unlike some organisations, rather than just calling for action on a security issue, the non-profit association is actually doing something about it by sending its members into schools and colleges to educate tomorrow's IT users about IT security.

John Colley, managing director of (ISC)² Europe, told Infosecurity that his organisation – which is now 21 years old and has more than 63 000 certified members worldwide – started a schools and colleges IT security education programme about four years ago, which has since become something of a success.

"It started as a small project [four years ago] when we realised there was a need for someone to go into a local school to talk to students about IT security issues", he said.

"Childnet has sent out some 20 000 CDs to UK schools and, whilst the disk was informative, many of the teachers were not experienced enough to teach and talk to their students about the issues the CD raised. And so we had some of our members go in and talk to the students, who were aged from 11 upwards. It was a great success", he added.

Over time, Colley said that his members were able to update the materials on the Childnet disk and an increasing number of members started to join the education programme.

"This sort of thing takes time to organise, as members have to be vetted by the authorities, but once someone is standing in front of a class of 11- to 14-year-olds, they can answer their questions on IT security and the online reputation issue, as well as a lot of other related issues", he explained.

And, he says, the programme has been a success, as more and more members are coming forward to say they want to give something back to society.

So is there a need for schools and colleges to have IT security professionals go in and talk about their jobs and give advice?, Infosecurity asked the (ISC)² EMEA managing director.

Most certainly yes, he replied, drawing the analogy of students being taught about safety in the school chemistry lab before they are allowed to use the equipment.

"This sort of [basic safety] education doesn't happen with computers, and that's where our members can help the schools educate their students about a variety of IT security issues", he said.

"Members are happy to do this on a pro-bono basis and whilst the schools are happy to pay expenses, most of the sessions are conducted on a local basis, so there isn't much travel concerned", he added.

Colley went on to say that by educating students on the need for IT security, it helps them to understand why there is a need for security and allow them to focus on prevention rather than clean up.

Children, he says, are only just beginning to understand how to protect themselves online, while their parents are struggling to develop the right instincts.

In the last few months, Colley says that the (ISC)² has been focusing on increasing the amount of content related to online reputation so children fully understand the consequences that their online footprint now will have later on in their lives.

Being aware of the consequences of our online behaviour from a young age has become as important a life skill as learning how to safely cross a road, he adds.

"It doesn't stop with children though. To maximise the impact of our education efforts on children, we should also provide support to those parents and teachers who need to wise up so that they can help their children to do the same", he said.

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