ICDL urges educational authorities and schools to put IT Security at the top of their agenda
- United Arab Emirates: Monday, October 22 - 2012 at 14:11
- PRESS RELEASE
ICDL GCC Foundation, the governing body and certification authority responsible for advocating digital literacy and promoting the worldwide recognized ICDL computer certification programme across the GCC and Iraq, urged educational authorities and schools across the region to intensify awareness on Cyber Security among educators to safeguard students from the increasing threat posed by the Internet.
To address the issues and challenges around cyber security and cybercrime, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) through the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) organized a Special Event on "Cyber Security and Development" which brought together Member states, the United Nations system, public and private sector and other civil society organizations interested in this field.
The discussions acknowledged a disparity between nations and that developing countries do not have sufficient capacity to combat cyber attacks and cyber crimes. It also concluded that cyber security is a global issue that can only be solved through global partnership.
At the same time cyber security awareness among educators, parents, students and law enforcement bodies is not widespread. In a recent survey carried out by ICDL in partnership with Canon Middle East on perceptions on valuable ICT skills for work and everyday life, the least useful skill cited by the 488 student respondents was protecting computers against viruses and online threats with only 4.8% considering this important.
In a similar vein, when asked about what was the most useful ICT skill used every day, the least popular was again deemed to be protecting computers and data, ranking at only 5.68%.
In another survey, carried out by Symantec Norton which included 580 parents, 58% felt that the subject of internet security must be handled by schools.
Through its' extensive work and research in this field, ICDL has identified severe gaps exist not only in the awareness level of internet security among students but also a lack of policies, procedures and resources within the educational system to tackle such a threatening issue.
For instance, students attacking school networks for fun without understanding the consequences of their actions or the fact that inadequate policies exist in schools, universities and colleges for cyber bullying which is a common practice among students. Furthermore, detecting, reporting and resolving cyber crimes in the region is a major challenge.
It is not only students and educational institutions that need to understand Cyber Security but parents also as they need to be aware of what their children are doing online in order to protect them from predators and unsavory characters. Parents also happen to form a large proportion of the regional workforce and consumer base so being fully aware of Cyber Security is important to their professions as well.
Evidence of this is highlighted in a report conducted by Frost and Sullivan, a leading, global research firm, in which it states that the region was witnessing a growing need "for added protection for consumers from an ever increasing number of threats."
The report said that whilst overall IT spending was set to rise more than 10% while the Middle East network security market is expected to average 18% growth between 2012 and 2018. With persistent cyber attacks that aim to access critical and confidential data, it said sectors such as banking, government and defense, oil and gas, online retail and social networking sites, were among the most vulnerable in the Middle East.
In response to this growing need, ICDL GCC Foundation has been working closely with educational and law enforcement authorities to launch an IT Security syllabus that covers the main concepts of cyber safety and its components and is 'IT Security for All'. It is aimed at education institutions, teachers, students as well as parents. Endorsed by regulatory bodies, interior and education ministries across the region, this is the Foundation's next step as it continues to embark on a comprehensive IT security programme. The syllabus will be promoted through a comprehensive awareness campaign that includes the distribution of student booklets, brochures and announcements to schools, universities and colleges. It is also planning to release further unique educational tools and materials to support the learning and adoption of 'IT Security for All' in the coming months.
Mr. Jamil Ezzo, Director General of ICDL GCC Foundation stated "The entire region is experiencing a surge in technology adoption and the GCC boasts the highest internet growth rate amongst the Arab World with around 4 million users and growing exponentially. Hence, the threat is closer to home than people realize.
For that purpose, ICDL is working closely with the concerned authorities and other experts across the GCC region with the aim of raising the level of IT security awareness among the general public. We are fully committed to bringing IT Security to the top of the agenda and we call on all policy makers, as well as the educational and law enforcement authorities to accelerate their efforts to raise awareness on the significance of IT Security among students and educators."
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