The U.S. Army wants to make sure your kids are safe from cyber attacks. The Army has joined forces with the National Science Center to create "Cyber Swarm Defenders," an online game that trains middle schoolers on how to protect themselves when surfing the Web, emailing and using smartphones.
The game is part of the NSC's newest Cyber Ops education outreach program that aims to increase youngsters' proficiency in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM).
"Anything we can do to make the young students of our country understand the cyber-threat and get them excited about STEM technologies has a big payoff," said Ron Ross, chairman of the NSC.
"Cyber Swarm Defender"s is available only through kid-friendly social networking site jabbersmack.com, designed for children ages 13 and younger. This tower-defense strategy game pairs cyber-security education with mini-exercises. Kids earn points, badges and game coins as they strengthen their defenses to advance through the game levels.
"Installing the game on a social network site allows us to reach a variety of students and an existing community of users," said Mike Krieger, the Army's liaison with the NSC.
But are these the kids most at risk from cyber-criminals? More than 7.5 million children under age 13 use Facebook , and it's hard to imagine that these more precocious youth are participating in a network for children, rather they are already out in the wilds of the Internet.
Further, there are plenty of adults on Facebook who enjoy a friendly shoot-out game and could benefit from cyber-threat protection training.
To access the game from the NSC's website, go to www.NationalScienceCenter.org and click on the Cyber Swarm banner button. In addition to the new game, the Cyber Ops program links to a Malware Comic Book and Malware Mystery game that are also appropriate for older students.