Raising Cybersecurity Awareness for the Youth in Algeria
Cybersecurity education is on the agenda in Algeria, with efforts to push the discipline at the academic level. CyberSec is a group of private sector enterprises focusing on awareness-raising about the dangers of cybercrime to the economic prosperity of the country. Presided by Abdelaziz Derdouri, CyberSec has been actively organizing a number of events for SMBs in order to inform and educate on cybersecurity for the commercial sector. Most recently, the CyberSec group has turned its efforts to raising awareness among the younger generation. On October 23, 2013, CyberSec organized the first Regional Conference on Cyber Security together with the University El Hadj Lakhdar of Batna and the Al Bayan ICT Academy. More than 200 students attended and the group distributed over 2,000 awareness brochures.
The aim of the conference was to persuade the growing numbers of digitally-literate Algerian students of the merits of becoming white hats. One of the persistent problems in Algeria is the lack of economic opportunities, leading many young educated people to become black hats. The conference offered a series of lectures to drive interest in cybersecurity as a discipline in its own right, delivered by local cybersecurity experts: Najia Gharib, Madani Ouali, and Abdelmadjid Zidani, including Mr. Derdouri himself.
The organization of such public-private sector partnerships is indicative of a niche but growing movement within Algeria to promote cybersecurity education in academic and commercial circles. There is a realization by highly invested individuals in the significant economic opportunities that can be offered by cybersecurity. Raising awareness, training and education can contribute to bettering the country’s cyber hygiene, and avoid becoming a haven for cybercriminals, potentially driving away lucrative investment in the Algerian economy. Such efforts targeting the very specific regional context are to be lauded. While cybercrime and cybersecurity are global phenomenon, it is important to also focus on the regional disparities and the merits of tailoring the appropriate responses to a specific context and regional identity. This is especially true in emerging economies still bridging that digital divide where national cybersecurity policies and strategies at the government level are still sorely lacking.