Scotland’s national education agency is partnering with a leading cybersecurity firm to provide interactive learning and ‘demystify’ the subject for young people.

Palo Alto Networks is working with Education Scotland to equip children with the right information to help them manage their online interactions safely and securely.

Together, they are launching the Cyber Citizens programme, which will be available from 3 March, 2022, to coincide with CyberScotland Week. 

Cyber Citizens is a critical resource available to teachers to help them demystify cybersecurity. The lessons are designed so that they can be delivered by anyone, regardless of their prior knowledge, with modules catering for children from ages five to 15-years-old.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, MSP, cabinet secretary for education and skills, said: “I’m delighted to see the Cyber Citizens resources being launched by Palo Alto Networks and Education Scotland. The global pandemic has highlighted the crucial role that digital technologies play in our lives, including when we are learning. If we are to get the most out of the online world, then we need to ensure we are all safe and secure, and Cyber Citizens contributes to important efforts we are already making in this space.“

Ollie Bray, strategic director for Education Scotland, said, “As part of CyberScotland Week 2022, Education Scotland is happy to be supporting Palo Alto Networks with the launch of its new Cyber Citizens programme. These resources will help enhance the work we are already doing in the area of cyber security education.”

Simon Turner, regional vice president for Western Europe at Palo Alto Networks, said: “Protecting people’s digital way of life is a serious responsibility, and with that, we want to give everyone the basic tools they need to be safe online. The lessons in Cyber Citizens will help make sure that as children spend more time online for education, socialising and leisure, they can do so securely. Not only that, but Scotland is developing an internationally recognised cybersecurity market which needs future generations, with the right cybersecurity skills, to keep driving it forward. As cybersecurity skills become even more important, we hope that the Cyber Citizens programme can continue to drive social impact through cybersecurity education in Scotland.”

The Cyber Citizens lessons will help give children a broad understanding of basic cybersecurity skills across four subject areas, which are responsible connectivity, privacy, communication and digital citizenship. 

Module 1, for children aged 5-7, has lessons on physical security, tracking online, understanding who you are talking to, and inclusion. These topics progress along the modules until Module 4, for children ages 14-15, teaches students about user authentication and connections; personal identifiable information and terms & conditions; online scams and telling fact from fiction; and copyright and the protection of original work.

Cyber Citizens is being launched via an online event for teachers, to be held between 16:00 and 17:00 on 3 March 2022.