The CyberPeace Builders and M-PESA Foundation Academy Partnership
In an era where digital literacy is as crucial as reading and writing, the partnership between the CyberPeace Builders program and the M-PESA Foundation Academy models significant strides toward a secure digital future. This collaboration focuses on equipping students and staff at the Academy with essential cybersecurity skills.
We spoke with Naomi Wangari, ICT systems and infrastructure manager from the M-PESA Foundation Academy, to delve into their cybersecurity journey.
A Foundation of Empowerment
The M-PESA Foundation Academy is a state-of-the-art, co-educational, and residential high school offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), and International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) driven by leadership, entrepreneurship, technology, and innovation. The Academy serves talented but economically disadvantaged students who demonstrate leadership potential.
They create future transformative leaders every day, harnessing the power of curiosity to change the future. This is a learning institution where technology connects young minds to a future that is possible, boundless, and transformative.
To support their mission, the CyberPeace Builders program initiated a comprehensive General Cybersecurity Awareness Training session led by Non-Profit Cybersecurity Specialist, Zarc Okere. The session, meticulously prepared over several months, culminated in a successful first session attended by teachers and administrators. Zarc’s approach, characterized by relatable examples and interactive methods, “made cybersecurity relatable, and inclusive to all participants, not just those from tech backgrounds” says Naomi.
The impact of this training goes beyond the classroom. Teachers were encouraged to share the insights from these sessions, fostering a shared sense of responsibility among students and staff regardless of their interest in Cybersecurity. This strategy ensures that cybersecurity awareness permeates every aspect of education, preparing students not just for IT careers but for a digitally connected world.
Building Awareness Through Phishing Simulations
A key component of the training was the end-to-end phishing simulation exercise, led by CyberPeace Builder Anita Tam from Zurich. Sharing her experience, Anita remarked, “The experience is both fulfilling and challenging to me as I am trusted with the rewarding opportunity to conduct an end-to-end phishing simulation from technical set up to follow up analysis and consultation.” Designed to test cybersecurity awareness, the mission commenced with Anita and Naomi connecting through the CyberPeace Builders platform to plan effective deployment. The simulation was strategically rolled out first to the staff, then to the students in batches over a period of time, ensuring a comprehensive coverage and tailored approach for different groups.
Setting Up the Simulation
To ensure that the simulated phishing emails reached their intended recipients without being blocked by spam filters or security protocols, specific email addresses were whitelisted. The effectiveness of the simulation was gauged by recording those who fell “victim” to the phishing emails. This data was crucial for the organization to identify individuals or groups who required more support and training in cybersecurity best practices.
An interesting outcome of this exercise was the response of their email security systems. For users who clicked on the links in the phishing emails, the system detected the breach and promptly notified them with a Deceptive Website Warning. This immediate feedback was vital in educating the participants about the real-time consequences of falling for phishing attacks.
The phishing simulation exercise was a resounding success, proving to be both an educational and a practical demonstration of the importance of cybersecurity vigilance. It showed that while the M-PESA Foundation’s staff and students were well prepared and protected, continuous education and awareness are key to maintaining a strong defense against evolving cyber threats.
Anita Tam summarized the exercise’s success, stating, “I’m happy that M-PESA Foundation Academy takes information security seriously, particularly the risk of phishing attacks. This exercise was not only a test but also a learning opportunity for everyone involved, demonstrating the importance of being alert in the digital world.”
The Next Step in Cybersecurity Education
Following the success of the staff training, the next session in January will be joined by high schoolers interested in IT careers, building on their technical abilities. These sessions will include practical exercises like phishing simulations, testing students’ knowledge and reactions to potential cyber threats.
The partnership between CyberPeace Builders and the M-PESA Foundation Academy is a beacon of hope in a world increasingly dependent on digital technologies. It highlights the importance of cybersecurity education in building resilient communities. Naomi Wangari’s insights from the M-PESA Foundation Academy underscore the power of collaboration in creating a safer digital environment. This partnership is not just about teaching cybersecurity; it’s about inspiring a culture of digital responsibility and resilience.
Join us in shaping a safer digital future for all. For more information on our programs and how you can get involved, visit CyberPeaceBuilders.org.