Today, I had the opportunity to attend a White House summit on cybersecurity to talk with leaders across the nation about the role of cybersecurity in keeping us safe.
With the ever-expanding role of digital technology in our lives, cybersecurity is of utmost importance to personal safety, and even national security. In the U.S., people are more concerned about getting hacked than any other crime. Beyond personal risk, hackers are trying to access computers at every company and government — to steal money, demand ransoms, or even to shut down critical infrastructure like electricity, water, or food supplies.
The role of education
Education is critical to addressing this problem for two reasons:
(1) The weakest link in cybersecurity is the people using digital technology. Most security breaches happen because one person makes a little mistake — like reusing a password, clicking a bad link, or not installing security updates. An attack can spread beyond that one person to their friends, family, and workplace. Education is necessary to ensure that all of us develop safe habits to avoid getting hacked.
(2) Cybersecurity workers protect our most important and private information, from bank accounts to sensitive military communications. However, there is a dangerous shortage of cybersecurity workers that puts our digital privacy and infrastructure at risk. In the U.S., there is a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of skilled cybersecurity professionals.
Code.org is committed to do its part
To help address these issues, Code.org is announcing that we will redouble our efforts to teach cybersecurity concepts throughout our classrooms to help ensure that every student, in every school, learns the basic concepts of cybersecurity as part of a foundational computer science education. Today’s announcement includes two commitments:
Second, we are committing to launch a new instructional cybersecurity video series, “How Not to Get Hacked,” with a goal of reaching 1 million additional students of all ages globally. This video series will feature a diverse group of experts in cybersecurity, and we will leverage partnerships to promote the series to the broadest possible audience.
The importance of diversity in cybersecurity education
When it comes to defending against cyberattacks—whether at the level of the individual, the workplace, or the nation—it is critical to also consider the importance of diversity in education.
It’s no secret that participation in computer science is limited by gender, race, ethnicity, or geography. When it comes to cyberattacks, we are all connected, and a weakness in any one computer system puts us all at risk, and thus an education gap among any group hurts us all. As we think about educating the cybersecurity workforce of the future, and as we prepare every digital citizen to learn about safety in a connected world, it’s critical that we take special steps to educate young women and students from racial and ethnic groups that are historically underrepresented in computer science and cybersecurity.
Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of students learning on Code.org are from these populations: 45% of Code.org students are young women, and 49% are from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. And thanks to the work of teachers in classrooms, we hope to ensure that every student in every school is prepared to help safeguard and protect the digital infrastructure we all rely on in our daily lives.
At a personal level, it is a special privilege to be invited to the White House and to speak with the President and CEOs from the largest companies in the world. My role in this is only as a messenger of the work by millions of educators whose work Code.org supports, especially teachers in classrooms, who are preparing our students for the future. Thank you for all you do.
-Hadi Partovi, Code.org