Children's online safety initiative announced

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A new program is encouraging information security experts to educate U.S. school children about how to protect themselves online.

The program, called Safe & Secure Online, was first introduced in the UK in 2006, then expanded to Hong Kong in 2007 and is now in a pilot program in Washington, headed up by Richard Harrison, CISSP of Seattle, according to a news release about the program. Aimed at children ages 11 to 14, the program has been supported by Childnet International, a charity that aims to make the Internet a safe place for children. To date, Safe & Secure Online has reached nearly 20,000 children.

The program is an effort of (ISC)2, a nonprofit information security education and certification organization. The new U.S.  Safe & Secure Online initiative was announced at (ISC)2's 20th anniversary celebration Sunday in association with the RSA Conference.

“While very high-profile threats such as online sexual predators are still very much a concern, the problem of cyber-bullying has now overtaken it as the top online threat to kids,”  said Harrison in a statement. “Identity theft is also becoming an issue for children. These important topics are all addressed in the Safe & Secure Online program.”

The program addresses cyber-bullying, social networking, viral emails, spam, and identity theft. (ISC)2 members must pass a training quiz and complete a background test before participating. Members will then head up an information security education effort in their region.

“The Safe & Secure Online initiative is an outstanding program that engages kids and helps them to recognize the potential dangers on the Internet,” Bob Herold, head teacher at Northstar Junior High in Kirkland, Washington said in a statement. “It's the best program I've ever seen in all my years of teaching.”

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