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U.S. DHS Partners with Girl Scouts to Launch the 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge

The Department of Homeland Security and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) launched the 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge, a new initiative to encourage girls across the country to learn about cybersecurity and increase related awareness within their own communities, particularly around the growing threat of ransomware.

Developed in partnership with CYBER.ORG and DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge will help develop the next generation of diverse cybersecurity talent and strengthen our Nation’s cybersecurity resilience. The 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge gives girls in every zip code across the country direct access to fun activities that will strengthen their skills and interest in cyber-related fields.

Women hold only a quarter of cybersecurity jobs in the United States, yet women make up more than 47 % of the workforce.  GSUSA is continuously working to close this gender gap through programming that inspires girls in grades K-12 to explore their interest in a field that is so critical to the safety and security of our country.  By combining Girl Scouts’ reach and girl-focused programming with expertise from DHS and CYBER.ORG, a new generation of girls will be motivated to become confident cybersecurity leaders.

Interim CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA

This initiative is critical to introducing more girls to cybersecurity and helping grow a more diverse cybersecurity talent pipeline.  This effort is key to promoting student cybersecurity literacy and ensuring that girls can explore the possibility of cybersecurity careers. The 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge will provide girls in grades 6-12 with opportunities to learn more about cybersecurity, practice key concepts, and demonstrate the knowledge and skills they develop during this program.

At the end of the Challenge, participants will be encouraged to publish an article about ransomware to raise cybersecurity awareness in their respective communities.  Participants who complete the Challenge will receive a certificate of achievement and an invitation to attend a capstone virtual event hosted by DHS during Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October.

The 2021 Girl Scout Cyber Awareness Challenge is part of the Secretary’s 60-Day Cybersecurity Sprints, which were announced in March.  During the recently completed Cybersecurity Workforce Sprint, DHS achieved the largest and most successful cybersecurity hiring initiative in the Department’s history, hiring nearly 300 new cybersecurity professionals and extending an additional 500 tentative job offers.  The previous sprint focused on elevating the Department’s efforts to help prevent and protect against ransomware across the United States.

As part of the ongoing response to combat cyberattacks, agencies across the U.S. government announced new resources and initiatives to protect American businesses and communities. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), together with federal partners, has launched a new website to combat the threat of ransomware.

StopRansomware.gov establishes a one-stop hub for ransomware resources for individuals, businesses, and other organisations. The new website is a collaborative effort across the federal government and the first joint website created to help private and public organisations mitigate their ransomware risk.

As ransomware attacks continue to rise around the world, businesses and other organisations must prioritise their cybersecurity. Cybercriminals have targeted critical infrastructure, small businesses, hospitals, police departments, schools, and more.  These attacks directly impact Americans’ daily lives and the security of the nation. This new resource provides useful information to learn how to protect themselves from ransomware and reduce their cybersecurity risk.

The website is the first central hub consolidating ransomware resources from all federal government agencies. Prior to today, individuals and organisations had to visit a variety of websites to find guidance, latest alerts, updates, and resources, increasing the likelihood of missing important information. The website integrates federal ransomware resources into a single platform that includes clear guidance on how to report attacks, and the latest ransomware-related alerts and threats from all participating agencies.

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