‘What do you want to be when you grow up, Timmy ? A fireman, perhaps? An astronaut?'
‘I want to be an information security professional, daddy! Please let me be a CISO, please!'

Fortunately, the negative aspects of the web, of which we are all aware, are far outweighed by its advantages. The information security profession has a key role to play in ensuring this remains the case, not just as the guardian of businesses, but also as a contributor to larger society.

Similar to brands, end-users and consumers tend to personalise professions, giving them a positive or negative personality. By undertaking activities that go beyond the call of duty, the information security profession will abet its cause – both from business and social standpoints.

In any walk of life, role models have a major impact. “When children decide whom they want to be when they grow up, it is because they see them as the champions of their community (firemen, for example) and people they look up to,” explains Julie Peeler, Foundation director at (ISC)2. “Given the threats posed by the cyber world and the tangible difference that information security professionals make, the profession should be acknowledged in society.”

There is an enormous shortage of information security professionals globally, and a positive image of the profession will encourage more people to join it. Youngsters will see it as a stable and fascinating profession with long-term career prospects.

The (ISC)² Foundation is devoted to making the web a safer place by supporting cyber-security education and awareness. As part of its activities, it runs the Safe and Secure Online programme, a global initiative to teach 7- to 14-year-olds how to protect themselves on the web.

“We are awarding scholarships and awards at every level of the academic system, not just graduate and post-graduate levels, as is typically the case. We are keen to cultivate the next generation of cyber-security professionals,” says Peeler. 

“The information security profession clearly has the responsibility of ensuring individuals and businesses are able to leverage the cyber environment safely and securely. Using social responsibility as a tool to also make the public aware of the threats, and equip it to deal with them, can be very effective,” adds Peeler.

“The success of this approach is encouraging more of our members to become involved. After all, information security professionals are family members too; they see the benefits the approach is delivering to communities.”