DHS, Girl Scouts of the USA launch cybersecurity initiative

National News

FILE – In this June 18, 2018, file photo, patches cover the back of a Girl Scout’s vest at a demonstration of some of their activities in Seattle. Girl Scouts of the United States of America claim the century-old organization is in a “highly damaging” recruitment war with Boy Scouts of America after the group opened its core services to girls, leading to marketplace confusion and some girls unwittingly joining the Boy Scouts. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(WTAJ) — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Monday announced a partnership with the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) to help educate and increase awareness surrounding cybersecurity.

The 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge is a new initiative to encourage girls across the country to become involved in cybersecurity and increase the awareness of ransomware and other related cybercrime in their communities.

“I am tremendously proud to partner with Girl Scouts of the USA to inspire girls to learn more about cybersecurity and become leaders in their communities,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “I hope the unique opportunity presented by the 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge will spark a life-long interest in the cutting-edge field of cybersecurity among girls across our Nation.”

According to the GSUSA’s Interim CEO Judith Batty, the challenge will provide girls in grades 6-12 access to fun activities that will establish cyber skills. At the end of the Challenge, those who participate will be encouraged to publish an article about ransomware to raise cybersecurity awareness in their communities.

“Women hold only a quarter of cybersecurity jobs in the United States, yet we make up more than 47 percent of the workforce,” said Batty. “GSUSA is continuously working to close this gender gap through programming that inspires girls in grades K-12 to explore their interest in a field that is so critical to the safety and security of our country.”

The DHS reportedly achieved its largest cybersecurity hiring initiative in the department’s history during a workforce sprint announced in March. Nearly 300 new cybersecurity professionals were hired and an additional 500 tentative job offers were extended.

Girl Scouts and non-members are encouraged to participate and learn more by visiting girlscouts.org/cyberawareness.

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