Girl Scout badges break into 21st century

Girl Scouts of the USA and intelligence firm Palo Alto Networks will join forces to help young women learn cybersecurity skills. The organizations plan to offer 18 different internet security badges for girls K-12, starting in September of next year.

The badges will “deepen the existing commitment that Girl Scouts has made to science, technology, engineering and math.”

“Women remain vastly underrepresented in the cybersecurity industry, holding just 11 percent of jobs globally,” Palo Alto Networks said in a press release. “Plus, according to research by the Computing Technology Industry Association, 69 percent of women who have not pursued careers in information technology attribute their choice to not knowing what opportunities are available to them.”

Cybercrime is a growing phenomenon – in 2015, research revealed that more than $315 billion had been lost by businesses around the world during the past 12 months, highlighting a greater need for digital security professionals.

Criminal data breaches will cost businesses a total of $8 trillion over the next five years, according to a global report from U.K.-based market intelligence firm Juniper Research. The report predicts that more than 2.8 billion personal data records will be stolen by hackers in 2017, and five billion by 2020.

But the supply has yet to meet the demand – there simply aren’t enough people choosing careers in cybersecurity. In 2014, nearly 50,000 open positions in the U.S. required CISSP (certified information systems security professional) certification. At the time, there were only 65,362 CISSP-certified people in the U.S., and many of them were already employed.

Palo Alto Networks plans to “introduce cybersecurity education to millions of girls across the United States through compelling programming designed to increase their interest and instill in them a valuable 21st century skillset.”

The initiative’s goal is to help Girl Scouts explore future career…

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