As parents, our job is to prepare our children for the future. We help them to develop essential life skills and offer the best guidance we can. We hope our efforts will get our kids ready to take on upcoming challenges and threats.
Yet, this is not always possible.
Do you recall learning about phishing or ransomware from your parents? Most likely not. Our parents’ generation could not and did not know to prepare us for the cyber challenges our connected world faces.
Nowadays, parents face new obstacles that simply did not exist before. So, what does the cyber future hold for our kids? And, most importantly, how can we prepare them?
3 Basic Predictions for Tomorrow’s Cyberspace
- Smart-o-Rama: Everything around us keeps getting ‘smarter’ – from watches telling you the best time to call your mom (especially good for my Italian colleague – time to call Mamma!), to refrigerators telling you when to visit the grocery store (beneficial for my single friends). Who knows what’s next? A welcome mat tracking your weight? Or maybe a toothbrush suggesting your next meal based on the pH of your mouth?
- Say goodbye to your cash: You used to store many important personal items in your wallet – such as pictures of your cat or love notes from your partner. Now we store those electronically in our smartphones. Your cash is soon to follow. All transactions will likely become electronic, with currencies perhaps being replaced by cryptocurrencies. Who will join Bitcoin? What will happen to national currencies? Will governments handle cryptocurrencies? If so, how?
- Unprotected devices? LOL!: As a kid growing up in the 80s, I recall the amazing freedom of riding my own bike around town – to school or to friends’ houses. I also recall the ‘freedom’ of not wearing a helmet. Of course times have changed, risks are now widely known, laws are in place and it’s impossible to imagine kids riding their bikes without helmets, even in their own driveways. Risk awareness makes us change; we act more carefully. The same will happen to our cyber devices. Risk awareness is on the rise as we hear more about threats from data breaches to ransomware. Encryption and cyber keys are no longer just for the technologically savvy; they will become the essential trusted foundation of our daily lives.
What About Cybercrime?
The above predictions leave us with one conclusion: cybercrime is already booming, and the Internet of Things will just make things more prolific.
But why are cybercriminals so common and successful? Without a doubt, attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated, while users are left with insufficient knowledge and training.
Yet there lies a bigger challenge, an underlying threat being overlooked – the growing shortage of skilled labor in cybersecurity, with a projected talent gap of 1.5 million by 2020.
How Can We Get Ready?
To overcome this growing challenge, we need to encourage new ways of thinking and attract the next generation to a career in cybersecurity. Here are at least three opportunities to solve the cybersecurity talent gap:
- Inspire kids: Like policemen and firemen, ‘cyber-fighters’ are real-life heroes too and should inspire kids to dream of careers in cybersecurity, whether they’re working as forces for good at home or in their communities. To help raise awareness, storytelling is an effective way to make cybersecurity more understandable and memorable.
- Motivate young adults: In cybersecurity careers, you can make a good salary with stable employment, which is even more important considering the rise of automation and global competition. If you’re looking for work that is both purposeful and prosperous, then cybersecurity is an excellent career choice.
- Appeal more to women: It’s not a surprise that cybersecurity is a male-dominated industry – women represent only 11 percent of the cyber workforce, which has remained unchanged over four years. By contrast women are the majority in health care. Perhaps cybersecurity could take inspiration from that and appeal more to women by using more humanitarian messaging, such as analogies to health care. Caring about cybersecurity means caring about our well-being. Some may even claim that the health care industry, with its reliance on patient data, already is a cyber industry.
Preparing the next generation for an unfamiliar future in cyberspace cannot be done overnight. It will require time and effort of the entire community – from governments and global organizations to school teachers and local businesses.
The best way to get started is to be more comfortable discussing cybersecurity in our homes and with our families.
But, who wants to introduce cyber to their kids? Sounds so boring… how can you make it fun? No worries, you are not alone. Many nonprofit organizations are out there to help us. For example, the National Cyber Security Alliance offers great insights and guidelines for parents, including a guide for Raising Digital Citizens and some Gaming Tips to make online games fun and safe.
Mannerheimin Lastensuojeluliitto, based in Finland, is another nonprofit organization whose child welfare mission includes guiding parents throughout the cyber age.
Get comfortable talking with your family about safety in cyberspace. That’s the first step to making a difference!
About the Author
Michael Waksman is the CEO of Jetico, a company that provides pure and simple data protection software for national security, compliance and personal privacy. Jetico’s BCWipe wipes selected files beyond forensic recovery such as in response to classified data spills, while BCWipe Total WipeOut can erase hard drive data entirely such as for disposal or decommission. To protect stored data, Jetico’s BestCrypt delivers compliant data encryption software for whole disks, virtual drives and selected files or folders.