In an era where technology permeates every aspect of our lives, ensuring a secure digital future for future generations has become a key concern.

Recognizing the digital knowledge gap in the education sector, nearly a year ago at Cisco Live EMEA 2023 in Amsterdam, we embarked on an exciting journey with HackShield, supporting the social enterprise organization in launching a pioneering cyber security program in the Netherlands, which would then be scaled globally. This initiative, designed by HackShield for children aged 8 to 12, empowers them to defend against cyber-crime through an engaging and educational game. The program aligned with Cisco has initiated an engagement model which includes “guest-lessons” at schools to introduce HackShield to potential future Cyber Agents.

Our collaboration with HackShield aligns seamlessly with Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) Program, which seeks to “power an inclusive future for all” by unlocking the value of digitization. Together, we aim to make this future not just inclusive but also safer and sustainable.

To support this, Cisco and HackShield launched a joint effort to train 15,000 pupils globally to become Junior Cyber Agents, by encouraging our employees and partners to become “HackShield Cyber Teachers for a Day.” This initiative marks a significant step towards contributing to cyber resilience worldwide.

“Being Cisco cyber teacher for a day was an incredible experience. For me, this initiative is not just about giving back to our communities or a one-day event; it’s an investment in building a safer online future. I truly believe that arming children with digital resilience is a powerful way to contribute not just to their education, but to empower these young bright minds with knowledge and digital resilience to help them navigate the digital world with confidence.”

– José van Dijk, VP, EMEA Partner Sales & Routes to Market Organization

At Cisco in the Netherlands, so far 36 employees used their Time2Give days to give back to the communities they live in by becoming Cyber Teachers for a Day. To date, the program has been rolled out across 70 schools in the country with 35 lessons given.

Expanding Horizons

In just a year, 875 children in the Netherlands have enhanced their digital literacy, becoming “cyber agents”–safeguarding themselves and their environments from cyber threats. Now, together with HackShield, we are excited to celebrate our success and extend this collaborative program to GAAP Country, Germany, and are working on the others like: Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Austria.

“Expanding internationally requires meticulous planning. Leveraging Cisco’s extensive network and expertise, through its CDA program, we are poised to take this program to new heights, establishing a solid foundation in each country, reaching more children globally.”

Tim Murck, CEO, Hackshield

Leveraging Cisco’s CDA program and using a social franchise model, HackShield aims to partner with local NGOs in each country. This ensures a sustainable and impactful presence, providing essential materials and a viable model to bridge the digital education gap and provide every child with the skills to navigate the digital world safely.

A localized activation strategy will foster community engagement allowing children and teachers to join their local region, creating a sense of camaraderie and healthy competition. This approach will strengthen ties with local communities, schools and organizations, enhancing the overall experience for participants.

Leveraging Collaborations for Global Impact

Collaboration with local governmental organizations further amplifies our impact. Public-private partnerships ensure a joint responsibility to address cyber-crime and improve digital literacy among children. By aligning with local norms and values, we can make a more significant impact on a global scale.

As we venture into new countries, we invite our local partners to join us in our mission. Our intention is to multiply the community of cyber teachers and accelerate expansion. Together we can empower children against cyber-crime providing them with essential skills to thrive in the digital world.

The success of HackShield’s gamified cyber program for children has garnered industry recognition and numerous awards for its innovation and effectiveness. To date, it has reached over 250,000 kids and has been awarded “Best Applied Game” last year by the Dutch Game Awards. Cybersecurity education is not just a necessity for today, it is also a vital investment to support the safety and well-being of future generations.

HackShield will be with us at Cisco Live EMEA in Amsterdam from 5th to 9th February 2024. Join us on this exciting journey and let’s shape a secure and empowered future together.

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Jose van Dijk

VP, EMEA Partner Sales & Routes to Market

Global Partner and Routes to Market Sales