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National Cyber Security Alliance Announces New Agreement to Promote Cyber Security Education Programs Nationwide

AscentiveInternet Safety information from the Ascentive team

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) – a non-profit public-private partnership focused on cyber security awareness and education for all digital citizens – has announced that on behalf of the National Cybersecurity Education Council (NCEC) it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to formally institute and promote cyber security education programs in K-12 schools, higher education, and career and technical education environments nationwide.

The new agreement paves the way for the continuation of the recently established public private partnership known as the National Cybersecurity Education Council to build a consensus on the future of cyber education in the United States. The multi-stakeholder effort will bring together government, industry, nonprofit, academia and other educational organizations to make recommendations and suggest guidelines on cyber education.  The collaboration will also include all parties participating in a working group to identify the cyber education needs of all young people and the foundational knowledge, skills and competencies needed by government and industry to build a workforce that can protect America’s vital digital assets.

The MOU’s partnership supports many of the educational efforts responding to President Obama’s 2009 Cyberspace Policy Review, which called for the nation to “build an education system that will enhance understanding of cyber security and allow the United States to retain and expand upon its scientific, engineering, and market leadership in information technology.” Toward this end, in the spring of 2010, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) within the U.S. Department of Commerce led a team involving many departments and agencies across the government in launching the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). The goal of NICE is to establish an operational, sustainable and continually improving cyber security education program for the nation to use sound cyber practices that will enhance the nation’s security. NICE includes four focus areas, or tracks:  cyber security awareness, formal cyber security education, cyber security workforce structure, and cyber security workforce training and professional development. The public/private partnership, which the MOU fosters, will advance efforts of the formal education track, particularly responding to the needs identified in the Cyberspace Policy Review for a K-12 cyber security education program for digital safety, ethics, and security and for expanded university curricula.

NCEC members are also cognizant of the inherent demand for improved cyber security education in bolstering America’s future workforce.

Today, the U.S. faces a deficit in the number of cyber security professionals in our country, and predictions of our future needs are worrisome. Estimates from a recent study by (ISC)2 and Frost and Sullivan reveal a need of more than 700,000 new information security professionals in the Americas by 2015. What’s more, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that there will be 295,000 new IT jobs created in the U.S. between 2008 and 2018 – many of which will require cyber security expertise. This data points out a great responsibility within the U.S. education system and other industry groups to help produce cyber capable citizens.

“Our children live in an interconnected technology-based world with a growing need for digital skill sets,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “An education that incorporates tools to understand, navigate and operate technology will encourage students to exercise awareness when using digital platforms while helping better prepare them for the jobs of the future.”

“This important MOU will add another dimension to the public/private partnership that is key to cyber security awareness and formal cyber education,” said Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator, Howard Schmidt.  “Through the partnership, we will continue to increase public awareness of safe cyber behavior, as well as expanding the availability of the cyber education so vital to the future of our workforce.”

“Our future depends on a digital citizenry that can use the Internet safely, securely, ethically and productively,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. “Today, the United States faces a daunting challenge. We need to build a cyber security ready workforce trained to deal with a constantly changing digital infrastructure that is protected against a broad range of cyber threats. This broad effort is critical because cyber security and digital safety touches everyone.”

“With cyber threats on the rise, career opportunities in cyber security will continue to grow and students need to have the access to the necessary foundational STEM education and other prerequisites needed to pursue them,” said NICE National Lead, Dr.Ernest McDuffie. “Higher education and technical training must lead to skills and competencies that meet the hiring requirements of government and industry to fill the growing need for cyber security professionals. This working group will help pave the way to achieving this goal.”

“We are proud to convene and lead this new nationwide effort to help make cyber security education widely available and accessible,” said John Havermann, of EMC Corporation and president of the NCSA Board of Directors. “There is no organization or government agency that can tackle this problem alone. It’s going to take a diverse partnership between government, industry, academia and others to work together to develop shared priorities and a path forward.”

Cyber education is also critical to our nation’s economic growth as evidenced by a recent survey, conducted by Zogby International for NCSA and Symantec, of U.S. small business owners that shows a high portion of businesses need employees with cyber security skills. When employers were asked to rate skills necessary for new hires, U.S. small businesses report the following skills are very relevant or essential:

Understanding privacy (51%);

Importance of protecting intellectual property (49%);

Basic knowledge of using technology ethically (47%);

Basic knowledge of Internet security practices (passwords, identifying secure websites) (44%).

In addition, NCSA and Microsoft recently conducted research on the state of cyber security education and the results make clear better cyber education is needed in America’s K-12 classrooms.


More than one-third of U.S. K-12 teachers (36%) received zero hours of professional development training by their school districts in issues related to online safety, security and ethics in the past year. (86% received less than six hours of related training).

Only 51% of teachers agree their school districts do an adequate job of preparing students for online safety, security and ethics.

Few K-12 educators are teaching topics that would prepare students to be cyber-capable employees or cyber security-aware college students. In the past year, a mere 4% taught about careers in cyber security; 20% taught about knowing when it is safe to download files; 23% taught about using strong passwords; and just 7% taught about the role of the Internet in the U.S. economy.


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Learning by Grace launch site to Stop Cyber-Bullying

AscentiveInternet Safety tips from the Ascentive team

Learning By Grace is pleased to announce the launch of its STOP CYBER BULLYING CAMPAIGN with a FREE resource for the online homeschooling community called Stop Cyber Bullying (http://cyberbullying.learningbygrace.org). Learning By Grace defines cyber bullying as “the intentional use of digital content to lie, deceive, harass, threaten, mock, shame or bully a minor” and cyber harassment as “the same behaviors directed towards adults or companies.”

The Stop Cyber Bullying website is packed with information to help students and educators combat the newest epidemic gripping our country. Cyber harassment can be life threatening; it can destroy reputations and businesses. Over 30 teenagers have died as a result of cyber bullying. Children are not the only victims of cyber abuse; cyber harassers target adults as well. In an age where anyone can post anything about anyone with almost complete immunity and anonymity, the future of reputation and the future of privacy are being questioned.

“Having experienced cyber harassment for years, I learned firsthand how painful and frightening it can be. So like all of the injustices God has shown me, I set out to right the wrong”, says Mimi Rothschild. “Education about the cyber harassment crisis empowers students to recognize it and stop it. The cyber harassers ended up not only torturing me, but every member of my family as well”, she explains. When Rothschild’s son died of medical negligence, she started an advocacy organization for children. When Rothschild’s other son was hospitalized for 2 years, she started online homeschooling Academies that bring school to kids.”

Rothschild is the Co-Founder and CEO of Learning By Grace, the nation’s leading provider of Christian online homeschooling programs. “We founded Learning By Grace after our son was hospitalized for 2 years with a life threatening condition requiring life support. We met wonderful other children who were also hospitalized for long periods of time and saw a need for a school that could come to them.”

Learning By Grace manages 5 online Academies that offer over 150 online, state of the art, Biblically based PreK-12 courses. Learning By Grace is celebrating its 10th year of managing online homeschooling programs. It attributes its exponential growth to its state of the art online curriculum that consists of close to 200,000 pages of original Christian educational content and its affordable tuition.  During the summer of 2011, a team of Curriculum developers added access to 20,000 videos from Discovery Education to the 150 online courses, quadrupling the effectiveness of their programs.

According to Cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:

•       Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.

•      More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online.

•      Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet

Working to Halt Abuse (WHOA) fight online harassment through education of the general public, education of law enforcement personnel, and empowerment of victims publishes that there are about 75 new cases of cyber bullying or cyber harassment reported to them on a weekly basis.

“We hope Learning By Grace’s new free Stop Cyber bullying website will shed light on a dark issue that can create serious harm and even threaten life.” says Rothschild.

The website offers tutorials, webisodes, videos and tips on how to prevent cyber bullying and how to combat it if it rears its head. It was built using resources available through the US Department of Education, US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Justice.

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Cyber-Bullied Teens twice as likely to Use Tobacco, Alcohol, and Marijuana

AscentiveInternet Safety tips from the Ascentive team

American teens ages 12-17 who in a typical day spend any time on social networking sites are at increased risk of smoking, drinking and drug use, according to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents, the 16th annual back-to-school survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia).

The survey asked 12- to 17-year olds whether they spend time on Facebook, MySpace or other social networking sites in a typical day. Seventy percent of teens report spending time on social networking sites in a typical day compared to 30 percent of teens that say they do not. This means that 17 million 12- to 17-year olds are social networking in a typical day.

Social Networking Teens at Increased Substance Abuse Risk
Compared to teens that spend no time on social networking sites in a typical day, teens that do are:

  • •Five times likelier to use tobacco;
  • •Three times likelier to use alcohol; and
  • •Twice as likely to use marijuana.

Teen Substance Abuse Photos Rampant on Social Networking Sites
The CASA Columbia survey found that 40 percent of all teens surveyed have seen pictures on Facebook, MySpace or other social networking sites of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs. Half of teens who have seen pictures of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs on Facebook and other social networking sites first saw such pictures when they were 13 years of age or younger; more than 90 percent first saw such pictures when they were 15 or younger.

Compared to teens that have never seen pictures of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs on social networking sites, teens that have seen these images are:

  • •Three times likelier to use alcohol;
  • •Four times likelier to use marijuana;
  • •Four times likelier to be able to get marijuana, almost three times likelier to be able to get controlled prescription drugs without a prescription, and more than twice as likely to be able to get alcohol in a day or less; and
  • •Much likelier to have friends and classmates who abuse illegal and prescription drugs.

Teens Viewing Suggestive Teen Programming at Increased Substance Abuse Risk
This year’s survey explored teen TV viewing habits in relation to teen substance abuse. One-third of teens (32 percent) watch teen reality shows like Jersey ShoreTeen Mom, or 16 and Pregnant or teen dramas like Skins or Gossip Girl in a typical week.

Compared to teens that do not watch suggestive teen programming, teens that typically watch one or more such programs per week are:

  • •Twice as likely to use tobacco;
  • •Almost twice as likely to use alcohol;
  • •More than one-and-a-half times likelier to use marijuana;
  • •Twice as likely to be able to get marijuana within a day or less; and
  • •More than one-and-a-half times likelier to be able to get prescription drugs without a prescription within a day or less.

“The relationship of social networking site images of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs and of suggestive teen programming to increased teen risk of substance abuse offers grotesque confirmation of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Columbia’s Founder and Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. “The time has come for those who operate and profit from social networking sites like Facebook to deploy their technological expertise to curb such images and to deny use of their sites to children and teens who post pictures of themselves and their friends drunk, passed out or using drugs. Continuing to provide the electronic vehicle for transmitting such images constitutes electronic child abuse.”

Parental Perceptions Out of Touch with Reality
Eighty-seven percent of parents said they think spending time on social networking sites does not make it more likely their child will drink alcohol; 89 percent of parents felt it would not make their child more likely to use drugs.

Cyber Bullying and Substance Abuse 
The CASA Columbia survey also found that 19 percent of teens ages 12-17 (more than 4.5 million teens) report being cyber bullied (having someone post mean or embarrassing things about them on a social networking site). Compared to teens who are not cyber bullied, teens who have been cyber bullied are more than twice as likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.

“The anything goes, free-for-all world of Internet expression and suggestive television programming that teens are exposed to on a daily basis puts them at increased risk of substance abuse,” said Califano. “The findings in this year’s survey should strike Facebook fear into the hearts of parents of young children and drive home the need for parents to give their children the will and skill to keep their heads above the water of the corrupting cultural currents their children must navigate.”

Other Key Findings Related to Teen Substance Abuse
Teens whose parents don’t agree completely with each other on what to say to their teen about drug use are more than three times likelier to use marijuana, and three-and-a-half times likelier to expect to try drugs in the future, than teens whose parents agree completely on what to say about drug use.

  • •Teens whose parents do not agree completely with each other on what to say to their teen about drinking alcohol are twice as likely to use alcohol, than teens whose parents agree completely on what to say about drinking.
  • •Teens who agreed with any of the following statements − “If a friend of mine uses illegal drugs, it’s none of my business,” “I should be able to do what I want with my own body,” or “It’s not a big deal to have sex with someone you don’t care that much about” − are three times likelier to use marijuana, twice as likely to drink alcohol, and much more likely to smoke cigarettes, compared to teens who disagreed with the statements.
  • •For the fifth straight year, more than 60 percent of high school students say they attend schools where drugs are used, kept or sold on school grounds.
  • •Forty-two percent of 12- to 17-year olds report knowing at least one friend or classmate who uses illegal drugs, like acid, ecstasy, methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin, a 24 percent increase since 2007.

CASA Columbia’s back-to-school survey was conducted using two concurrent surveys. CASA Columbia used Knowledge Networks to do an Internet-based survey administered to a nationally representative sample of 1,037 teens (546 boys, 491 girls), and 528 of their parents, from March 27 to April 27, 2011. Sampling error is +/- 3.1 for teens and +/- 4.4 for parents. As in the past, CASA Columbia used QEV Analytics to do a survey of trend questions at home by telephone that was administered to a nationally representative sample of 1,006 teens (478 boys, 528 girls) from March 29 to May 9, 2011. Sampling error is +/- 3.1.

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