BlackBerry and Girl Guide of Canada have issued over 5,600 Digital Defenders crests across the country through its joint cybersecurity skills-based program.
Announced in 2019, BlackBerry’s Digital Defender badge aimed to spark interest in cybersecurity in girls between five and 18. The curriculum program breaks down key cybersecurity topics including how computers function, what malware is, and the various career options in cybersecurity.
Each of the eight learning programs targets a specific age group. The younger audiences can participate in crafting exercises like making a binary bracelet. The older age group may choose to play games that expose the inner workings of malware and what happens when they manifest.
The program benefits the technology industry as a whole by invoking women’s interest in STEM-related careers, says Sarah Tatsis, vice president of BlackBerry Advanced Technology Development Labs,
She adds that BlackBerry will continue to explore new ways to raise inclusion and diversity, as well as to promote cybersecurity awareness.
“We are going to continue on this front,” said Tatsis. “I think it’s really important for the company overall, just being a leader in this space to show that we really want to help address the skills gap that’s out there, address diversity inclusion, and keep us at that forefront of security innovation as well.”
Tatsis said that the Digital Defender’s badge complements well with the STEM challenges Girl Guide of Canada currently offers. Existing STEM challenges include the STEM and CSI forensic science challenges in Alberta and British Columbia, as well as the National Cybercitizen challenge.
“We’re thrilled that the program was so well received and has become even more relevant for girls today as they navigate the current tech landscape and are immersed in more extended periods of online learning due to current pandemic protocols,” said Jill Zelmanovits, chief executive officer of Girl Guide Canada in the recent announcement about the number of crests issued.