Last week I was lucky to have the opportunity to participate in a round table discussion with a handful of other technology leaders in independent schools and as we hashed out ideas and shared our experiences I began to realize that, without really realizing it, I have been working within the realm of cybersecurity for years as a teacher.
In my 9th grade technology class, students learned how the Internet works, how to create secure passwords and how passwords are compromised or guessed by sophisticated algorithms. We learned to identify cyberbullying including doxxing and impersonation, acts that lead to compromised data. We also learned about reading privacy policies and terms of service using the study in which participants signed up for a service that required them to sell their first born child. Many companies will sell your data or, if they are bought by another company, do not guarantee safeguards for your data when the new company acquires them.
In addition, we learned about the importance of vetting information and being responsible sharers. People tend to trust information and links sent to them by friends even if those friends shared them irresponsibly.
Yes, cybersecurity also involves a technical approach by strengthening firewalls, cleaning up networks, deploying anti-virus software and having clear off-boarding processes for people and devices. But cybersecurity is also a people problem and while phishing campaigns and training is important, there are also simple steps we can take to bake these skills into our curriculum and institutional culture at the same time.
One of my favorite places to go for easy to implement and effective lessons and resources is Common Sense Education’s Digital Citizenship curriculum.
Below is a simple graphic to show how aspects of Digital Citizenship and Data Privacy topics and content can support cybersecurity initiatives in schools.