The IT Challenge 2021 was also a great way to do something good – the winner got to choose the recipient of 10,000 Swiss francs donated by PostFinance. The three possible options were all organisations that support young digital talent: The link will open in a new window Educreators Foundation, The link will open in a new window Powercoders and the The link will open in a new window Digital Self-Defense Foundation. The winner chose the latter. We talk to Sarah Mühlemann, President of the Digital Self-Defense Foundation, about her goals and the projects that will be advanced with the donation from the IT Challenge.
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IT Challenge: donation for digital self defence
PostFinance does a lot to promote young IT talent. As part of the IT Challenge, for example, the financial institution donated 10,000 Swiss francs to an IT organisation that supports new IT talent. The recipient of the donation (The Digital Defense Foundation) was chosen by the winner of the challenge.
How does the Digital Self-Defense Foundation support young digital talent?
We create learning opportunities that empower people to deal with threats in cyberspace. These threats include cyberattacks, disinformation or cyberbullying, for example. To appeal to “digital natives”, in particular, we provide fun and interesting activities that allow participants to try things out and discover them for themselves. These include the “be[a]ware events” that we make available to young digital talent via schools or other educational organizations, for example. The objective is to enable young digital talent to successfully handle the cyber threats they face in their private and professional lives and to deal with the opportunities and risks of digitization and digital ethical issues in a differentiated manner.
How exactly will the 10,000 francs help you pursue these goals?
The 10,000 Swiss francs will enable us to develop two interactive modules for the “be[a]ware events” on the topics of disinformation and security. We will definitely use new tools such as the “SpyPi” hacker case for these new modules. This is because we often use a “role-reversal cyber-awareness training” approach. This means that participants play the role of hackers or spreaders of disinformation, for example. This enables us to show them the dangers and the effectiveness of protective measures without forcing them to play a demotivating victim role.
Why is it important to educate the next generation?
Whenever I tell people that it’s important to me to empower “digital natives”, they often tell me: “But they’re already technically and digitally savvy. They know what they’re doing”. But being technically and digitally savvy does not mean they are also well versed in security, privacy and disinformation. But these are important issues in a digitally driven world. Young people and adults who can deal effectively with risks in cyberspace have a great advantage in their private and professional lives. For example, they are better able to recognize disinformation and assess the opportunities and risks of digitization, enabling them to form more differentiated and informed opinions as they help to shape the future. They also understand how to protect data and devices from cyberattacks and how to more effectively defend themselves against privacy intrusions or cyberbullying attacks.
What’s the best compliment you could give the Digital Self-Defense Foundation for its work?
So that we give people the skills and motivation to participate actively and intelligently in our digitally informed world, to help shape it, and to enable them to move safely and self-determinedly in the digital space.
How important are projects like the IT Challenge for your organization?
The PostFinance IT Challenge is and exciting and motivating event for us. The interesting thing about this project is that it was not PostFinance itself or some committee that decided how to promote young digital talent, but the winner of the challenge. This actively includes the public in the discourse. So we’re very happy that we were chosen. And, of course, we now take it upon ourselves to use the donations to advance the innovative and creative projects that I just mentioned, so that they can soon benefit the next generation of digital talent.