The Risks of Ignoring Cybersecurity Education in Public Schools

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Over the last several decades, the world around us has evolved at a breakneck pace. From changes in how we receive healthcare to how we purchase products, society is becoming increasingly dependent on the benefits of digital technology.  

Unfortunately, though the digital landscape has improved many aspects of the world, it’s not entirely free of risks. Specifically, cybercriminals have become a serious threat to the well-being of all people who regularly engage with digital technology.  

Thankfully, there is a way to ensure that all citizens are equipped with the skills to safeguard themselves from the looming threat of cybercriminals. In particular, the practice of teaching cybersecurity principles to students in school can help prepare them with the skills and expertise to thrive in an increasingly digital world.  

Here are the risks of ignoring cybersecurity education in public schools.  

Students Will Be More At-Risk of Becoming Victims of Scams 

Digital literacy is more important today than it ever has been. Without the skills to assess what is safe and unsafe on the internet, people are far more likely to be victims of various forms of cyberattacks.  

Given the incredible value of understanding cybersecurity in an increasingly digital world, failing to impart students with an understanding of the topic is putting them at a marked disadvantage. Specifically, it makes students more vulnerable to being duped by cybercriminals and harmed in a number of significant ways.  

For example, a student without an understanding of cybersecurity may share copious amounts of personal information on social media. This can result in a social engineering attack in which a cybercriminal attempts to trick the student into providing key financial information.  

By being unaware of looming cybersecurity threats, a student who was never educated on the topic is far more likely to provide financial information to a cybercriminal — which could result in money or an identity being stolen. Conversely, a student who had a formalized education on the subject of cybersecurity would be far less likely to share personal information in the first place or acquiesce to the requests of cyber criminals.  

Ultimately, a failure to provide cybersecurity education to public school students significantly increases their risk of becoming victims of cybercrime. In a world where cybercrime is on the rise, it’s abundantly clear that this is a terrible practice on the part of public educators.  

Students Will Be Unprepared for the Modern Work Force 

In virtually every industry, digital technology has taken a more central role in business processes over the last decade. What this means is that many of the students that attend public schools will go on to work in a job that requires them to be online in a significant capacity. As a result, a failure to develop an adequate understanding of cybersecurity in school could make students a liability to their future employers.  

Much like educational institutions, businesses are a prime target for many cybercriminals because of the vast amount of private information they hold on their databases. If students are unaware of the proper ways to safeguard themselves digitally, they may unknowingly compromise the safety of their employers. As such, it’s clear that a failure to teach public school students about cybersecurity can have significant and far-reaching negative impacts in a variety of industries.  

Public Schools Will Be at a Higher Risk of Being Hacked 

As cybercrime has proliferated over the last decade, schools have become a prime target for cybercriminals with nefarious intentions. The reason for this is that schools typically have databases with the private information of masses of individuals — staff and students alike.  

Given the immense amount of personal data housed in school databases, cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout for ways to penetrate the cybersecurity defenses of these institutions. Unfortunately, students utilizing their school’s networks can inadvertently weaken a school’s defenses and allow cybercriminals with nefarious intentions to gain privileged access to these networks.  

For example, a hacker may pose as a school IT employee and ask a student for their student login information. Being unprepared for the many cybersecurity threats currently haunting digital spaces, many students would likely provide this information without any thought. Sadly, with student log in information in tow, many hackers would be able to gain access to a school’s database and be able to exploit it.  

What this example highlights is that it’s not only in students’ best interests to learn about cybersecurity, but also in the best interests of the schools they attend. Consequently, having classes on topics such as cybersecurity, digital literacy, and computer science for students can help public educational institutions safeguard themselves from the multitude of cybersecurity threats out there today.  

Teaching Public School Students About Cybersecurity Is Essential 

Public schools face a number of risks when they forego opportunities to teach students about cybersecurity in our increasingly digital world. From leaving students at a higher risk of becoming the victims of cyberattacks to leaving public schools more vulnerable to a slew of cyberattacks, the risks of not proactively instructing students about digital literacy can be devastating.  

Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of the incredible value of imparting students with these skills and in the next decade, it is likely to become a common practice across the country.  

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