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Virtual Cybersecurity Program Creating Economic Opportunities for The Lost Einsteins of America

School systems going through digital transformation have a growing need for comprehensive network security. As the popularity of digital learning continues to grow, securing educational data and systems has become increasingly imperative. According to a recent report, 98 percent of school districts in America now take advantage of digital learning within their curriculum. Further, internet access within schools is growing, with 40.7 million more students now having access to high-speed internet than in 2013. However, to reach the FCC’s 1 Mbps/student goal, most organizations still need to increase their bandwidth, which in turn means increasing their attack surface. The widening attack surface within the education sector calls for an increase in cybersecurity awareness. In order to aid educational organizations with their growing need for network security, a report from Fortinet outlines foundational threat intelligence on a quarterly basis in its Threat Landscape Report. In Q1 of 2019, FortiGuard Labs highlights a number of threats that school systems should be aware of, including new ransomware, phishing, and DDoS attacks. Cyber threats for education systems to track As school systems go through digital transformation, they will face a growing number of security vulnerabilities that go hand-in-hand with trends like BYOD, data collection, and the need for increased bandwidth—all opening the door for a number of cyberthreats. In the Q1 2019 Threat Report, the FortiGuard Labs team found ransomware, phishing schemes, and DDoS attacks to be prevalent attack vectors. In order for educational institutions to protect their networks, it is important that security teams start by understanding the systems these threats are targeting so they can be sure they are leveraging the right tools to protect against these attacks. Targeted ransomware Data reported in Q1 2019 suggests that threat actors are continuing to move toward more targeted ransomware campaigns. Multiple attacks reported during the quarter documented malware that disrupted operations and prevented file restoration in order to extort information and ransom payments from victims. Many of these attacks seemed to be highly targeted. For example, a LockerGoga attack utilized malware that required administrative rights, and yet used a very low level of obfuscation to avoid detection. This suggests that the attacker had analyzed the victim’s network and had gained some sort of privileged access before running the attack. Such tailored and targeted threats require more tailored and targeted defenses within education systems. Therefore, it’s recommended that school systems take an integrated, architectural approach to security, starting with incorporating NGFWs and web filtering solutions, and then implementing a comprehensive strategy that includes access control, intent-based segmentation, and centralized management. This will enable safe eLearning and keep students and staff secured from attacks and unknown threats.

Spark Mindset Inc today announced the launch of their CyberSpace Virtual Academy Program, an online education service that prepares 6th- 12th grade students for a career in cybersecurity starting September 14, 2020. Spark Mindset CyberSpace Academy High School Program is a two year virtual or hybrid program that prepares high school students for cybersecurity careers or a pathway to a 2 or 4 year college. Spark Mindset CyberSpace Academy Middle School Program is a one year virtual or hybrid enrichment or after-school program that prepares middle school students for a high school cybersecurity program. Our modules are thought-provoking and engaging and build your child’s confidence to become a self-regulated learner who can excel in a remote learning space. We also believe in the importance of connections, both adult-to-student and student-to-student. Relationship building and belonging are core components at the start of students’ time with Spark Mindset.

“Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing STEM career fields,” said Lawrence Wagner, Spark Mindset CEO and Co-founder. “Due to COVID-19, many companies are having their employees work remotely, and we are creating solutions to prepare their children to work in this new environment.”

The average Cybersecurity Analyst makes $78,000 annually, and the cybersecurity industry will have an estimated compound annual growth rate of 11.9 and a market size of 258 billion by 2025. With the rapid growth of the cybersecurity industry, there remains a talent shortage and lack of diversity. Currently, minorities make up 26% of the cybersecurity field, while women represent 14% of this field. There will be 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2021. “If you want to see more minorities in cybersecurity, you have to begin the talent pipeline at a young age,” explained Wagner. “And if children are going to use their devices more this summer, you might as well give them an opportunity for a bright future.”

For every child registered, a portion of the tuition goes towards a minority from a school in an underserved community. You can register for the for CyberSpace Academy Virtual High School Program –

About Spark Mindset, Inc.: Spark Mindset offers educational programs to give kids – particularly kids of color and girls – opportunities to learn and earn credentials in the field of cybersecurity. Beyond enriching in-school and out-of-school time through game-based learning, Spark Mindset creates opportunities for economic mobility by increasing the number of kids of color and girls in a rapidly growing tech field.

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