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The next generation of cybersecurity professionals is being created by the Girl Scouts

Author: Alison DeNisco / Source: TechRepublic

Tech leaders will soon be able to look to the Girl Scouts for both their cookie and cybersecurity needs. The first-ever national Girl Scout Cybersecurity training badges will roll out in 2018, teaching girls grades K-12 programming, ethical hacking, and how to avoid security incidents, as part of a partnership with Palo Alto Networks, the organizations recently announced.

Girl Scouts of the USA has ramped up the number of STEM badges and programs offered in recent years, including new robotics badges, Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo told TechRepublic.

“As we were in the final stages of testing and piloting badges coming out, we asked girls what they might want,” Acevedo said. “Loud and clear, one of the big areas of interest was computer science, and, specifically, cybersecurity.”

SEE: Information Security Certification Training Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)

At the Daisy level, for grades K-1, the cybersecurity badges will focus on establishing and protecting your digital identity, including building firewalls around the information you post online. At the middle and high school level, each badge will include progressively more complex programming, hack-a-thons, and ethical hacking skills.

The badges come at a critical time for the cybersecurity industry, which is facing a talent deficit predicted to reach 3.5 million by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Women currently comprise just 11% of today’s cybersecurity workforce.

“Those numbers are staggering, and have not been trending in a positive direction, so it’s clear…

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