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Only 10% of 14-18-year-olds in France Think Their Mobile Phones and Laptops are Secure

April 2019 by SANS INSTITUTE

86% of surveyed 14-18-year-olds in France have never considered a career in cyber security, according to the latest research from global IT security training company SANS Institute. This is compared to an average across surveyed countries of 76%, and only 50% of surveyed students in Saudi Arabia and 46% in the UAE. This places France behind the leaders when it comes to students’ appetite and preparedness for studying cyber security – which has been identified by the World Economic Forum as ‘one of the top risks to stability in the world.’

We’re currently on the brink of a cyber security crisis. By 2020, there will be approximately 24 billion internet-connected devices installed across the world. However, reports show that in the next year or two, unfilled cyber security job openings globally will run into several millions, meaning we’re severely short of professionals to secure all those devices and systems we’re putting online. Given the enthusiasm and aptitude of the iGeneration* for digital technologies, the answer to the cyber crisis could lie in enthusing and educating younger generations about cyber security now, to arm our future workforce. Towards the end of 2018, SANS Institute commissioned research agency Vanson Bourne* to explore awareness of and opinions on cyber security among 4000 14-18-year-olds in seven countries across Europe and the Middle East (the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UAE and Saudi Arabia). The SANS EMEA Survey: the iGen and Cyber Security report outlines the findings.

While the majority of students across EMEA had heard of cyber security (81%), there was higher awareness among some countries than others of both the importance of cyber security on a personal level, and of cyber security as a valuable career. When it comes to the skills gap, those countries with higher awareness of the subject could potentially have a competitive advantage when it comes to building out talent in the longer term.

Key findings from the research include:

• Device security: Only 10% of 14-18-year-olds in France think that the mobile phones and laptops that they have access to are very secure, compared with 22% across the entire survey sample. Only 30% of students in France rate the safety of the digital devices they own or have access to as important, compared with 56% across other EMEA countries surveyed.

• Personal device access: Of those students who rate the devices they own or have access to as very or somewhat secure, there is still a heavy reliance on anti-virus to secure devices (70% of students in France) followed by students saying they only download trusted apps (50% in France). Only 29% of students in France say they feel able to spot suspicious activity on their device.

• Cyber security at school: 38% of surveyed students in France said they don’t learn about cyber security at school, compared to the UK (23%), Germany (24%), the UAE and Saudi Arabia (13% respectively)

• Germany leads the pack in cyber awareness: 92% of students from Germany said they had heard of cyber security, followed by the UAE (85%) and the UK (82%). France stood at 79%. Given the prolific nature of cyber security and the media attention it attracts today, it’s perhaps surprising that no country achieved 100% awareness.

• There’s more to IT than cyber: 30% of surveyed students in France are considering IT as one of their top five career choices. In fact, it was more likely to be ranked in the top five than more traditional careers such as doctor/nurse (17%), teacher (21%) or working in finance (11%). Of those students who were interested in a career in IT, 60% of students from France were interested in AI/robotics, way above the EMEA average of 49%. Students in France were the least (36%) interested in a career in cyber security, when compared to the other surveyed countries (Saudi Arabia: 63%, the UAE: 58%, Germany: 51%, Belgium: 45%, the UK: 42%)

• Cyber as a feasible career path: Generally, awareness of career opportunities in cyber security is low; just 11% of EMEA students (9% in France) said they were ‘very aware’ of roles in the sector. 65% of EMEA students (64% in France) would be more interested in cyber security as a job if they knew more about the topic generally.

• Thirst for knowledge: Whether or not students are aware of the career options available, a whopping 81% of students across EMEA said they would be interested in learning more on the subject, as part of their school day, an extra-curricular activity, or both.

“With more pressure than ever on organisations to find skilled cyber security professionals, the importance of developing French cyber talent continues to increase. With the right initiatives, there is much that could be done to nurture and develop existing talent as well as to retrain those in different roles in the workplace to transition into cyber security as a role. However, the cyber security industry in France must grab the hearts and minds of young people in the school system today, to educate them in cyber security as a career, if we are to truly plug the skills gap in future years.” commented Axelle Saim, Business Development Director France & Luxemburg for SANS Institute.

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