NDMA hosted cybersecurity training for 1100 students in October

Keeping with our mandate of promoting safe internet use, the National Data Management Authority (NDMA), during the month of October, hosted a ‘Cybersecurity Awareness Road Show for Secondary School’ providing training sessions for 1,100 students from across the country.

This initiative, which tackled twelve (12) schools across six administrative regions, was part of NDMA’s series of activities in recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month which is observed globally.

NDMA believes these training sessions were especially important due to the change in how the internet is used in the everyday lives of children and teens. UNICEF Office for Research in its 2019 report ‘Growing up in a connected world,’ noted that at the global level, it is estimated that one child in three is an internet user, and that one in three internet users is a child under 18 years of age.

With this in mind, ICT engineers from NDMA’s Cybersecurity Division engaged students in interactive sessions on the importance of safe internet use, including how to identify cyber security threats and steps to take if threats are detected. The training facilitators provided tips on setting strong passwords; identifying frauds and rogue apps; what to do if your device is lost or stolen; and how to identify cyber-grooming.

Noting that the training sessions extends beyond personal safety and security, NDMA’s Cybersecurity Director Muriana McPherson noted that the long-term benefits of these initiatives are significant to the creation of a more resilient and capable generation of digital citizens.

“The long-term benefits for these students are substantial. Firstly, the students now possess the skills and awareness necessary to navigate the digital world safely and securely. This empowers them to protect themselves and their personal information, not only in their academic pursuits but throughout their professional and personal lives.”

She added that now more than ever, children use the internet and its diverse services for both academic pursuits and recreation and emphasized that it is pivotal that they are equipped with the necessary tools to stay safe online. Ms. McPherson reiterated that NDMA firmly believes that children should be allowed the opportunity to utilize all that the internet has to offer, but they must also be knowledgeable about how to protect themselves while using it.

Ms. McPherson added that beyond individual empowerment, these training sessions contribute to the overall enhancement of our society’s cyber resilience. Stating “these students, armed with the knowledge gained from this training, can go on to become cybersecurity advocates and educators in their own right, amplifying the impact of our efforts.”

During the sessions, the students were also reminded that online activities remain online even after they may have been deleted from the host or receiving devices, and that it is important that they remain vigilant and cognizant of what activities they engage in while using the internet.

The cybersecurity team also advised the students of the valuable cybersecurity resources offered like Get Safe Online Guyana. Get Safe Online Guyana allows visitors to access information on safe internet practices, including guidance on protecting personal data, recognising and mitigating cyber threats, and practicing online safety. The website also has a ‘Check a website’ feature which allows visitors to verify the authenticity of any website.

The schools that benefitted from the cybersecurity training include, Tucville Secondary; Anna Regina Multilateral Secondary; Cotton Field Secondary; Christianburg Wismar Multilateral Schools; Soesdyke Secondary; Leonora Secondary; Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary; Hope Secondary; Fort Wellington Secondary; Skeldon Line Path Secondary; the New Amsterdam Multilateral Secondary; and Lodge Secondary School.  

The NDMA remains resolute in its mandate of disseminating public knowledge on best practices for safe internet use and advocating for overall internet safety. We firmly believe that every individual should have access to resources and information that empower them to navigate the digital landscape securely.