As technology becomes more prevalent in society, the need for cybersecurity professionals grows. On Nov. 8, FIU did its part to prepare the next generation.
More than 200 girls from seven different schools across Miami-Dade gathered at the Frost Art Museum for “IBMCyberDay4Girls,” a one-day conference that educates young women about cybersecurity. The young women, who were in fifth grade up to eleventh grade, soaked in a full day of cybersecurity information — from how to protect yourself on social media to what careers are available in cybersecurity.
“We have a huge shortage of cybersecurity professionals, and this is a very good way for them to start getting interested. They see how different aspects of cybersecurity affect their personal lives and their families,” said Helvetiella Longoria, Chief Information Security Officer at FIU.
“We hope to continue to encourage and support female students to pursue interests in cybersecurity. Through these programs and our continued partnership with IBM, we hope to provide a voice in guiding and fostering them in this direction.”
The conference covered a wide scope of cybersecurity topics, including Internet of Things (IoT), a network of various devices connected and controlled by the Internet. FIU became the first university in the United States to offer an IoT degree in spring of 2018.
“I learned that it’s important to protect all your devices, even smart TVs and refrigerators so that they don’t get hacked,” said Maya Alsopp, a 13-year old student at Frank C. Martin International K-8 Center.
The girls learned from top business leaders, such as IBM’s Academic Outreach Leader Heather Ricciuto, that becoming a cybersecurity professional is not as intimidating as it may seem. In fact, it’s quite accessible.
“One myth [about cybersecurity] is that to work in it, you have to be hacker or a coder and that it’s just for boys. The other is that everybody thinks that you have to have a computer science degree, and that’s just not true. We need people with all sorts of skills,” Ricciuto said.
“I am very grateful to have partnered with FIU and Trend Micro to deliver today’s program. IBMCyberDay4Girls aims to inspire young women to pursue studies in cybersecurity and join the fight against cyber crime.”