Giving Calgary youth the upper hand during Cybersecurity Awareness Month

A small child likes to study on the computer.

For Stefan Herbst, the idea of ​​lifelong learning begins with the realization that the answers to difficult questions are out there – you just have to get your hands dirty.

“It’s okay to fail, it’s okay to get your hands dirty and look for answers because they’re out there.” It’s part of the opportunity,” Herbst shares. “Don’t be afraid to jump into something, even if you don’t feel fully equipped. You have to accept being uncomfortable.”

skills to build

This idea of ​​continuous learning has motivated Herbst throughout his career. After working in the audio engineering industry for five years, Herbst wanted to expand his technical skills and explored SAIT’s Network Engineering Technology program. On a visit to the campus, he was immediately drawn to the hands-on experiences he saw students having in labs and classrooms.

“I walked into a noisy room that had a bunch of computers and everyone was sitting behind keyboards and typing, and I was like, ‘They’re really going to get in and touch all this stuff!'” he recalls.

Looking back on his time at SAIT, Herbst says the skills he picked up as a student were a crucial part of his education. He learned how to problem solve and navigate and understand new technologies, which helped him pursue a new career in cybersecurity.

“When I left SAIT and got a job, it was immediately about learning a second language again, so to speak about the special features of the technology,” he says. “But I felt like I knew how to do it. I knew how to find answers to questions because there is no shortage of opportunities to get these funds.”

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After several years in systems implementation and then in the open consulting business, Herbst 2015 co-founded Advantus360, a company that sets the standard for excellence in sustainable solutions for organizations seeking clarity on the right next step for their cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity has come into the public eye in recent years, especially with the shift to digital technologies during the pandemic. Herbst believes there needs to be an ongoing dialogue about cybersecurity and an understanding of the ubiquity and rapidly changing nature of potential threats.

“All of these problems come without many organizations noticing,” he says. “We have to catch up a bit and as a community understand all the interconnectedness and explosive growth. I think it’s more important than ever to bring this conversation to the table to make it inclusive. I think there is a misconception that technical problems only require a technical solution.”

Broader Conversations

As part of this broader conversation, SAIT is once again participating in Cybersecurity Awareness Month this October, an internationally recognized campaign designed to help people learn more about the importance of cybersecurity. Through SAIT’s Digital Youth Programs, part of SAIT’s Youth Initiatives and in partnership with the School for Advanced Digital Technology, middle and high school students across Calgary have the opportunity to participate in several initiatives focused on cybersecurity for youth. An example, Cyber ​​Security: The Art of the Possibleexplores the fundamentals of cybersecurity and engages students in hands-on activities that test their digital footprint, explore encryption and decryption, and more.

When the opportunity arose to sponsor Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Herbst knew Advantus360 wanted to get involved.

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“It was a win-win situation. We love the opportunity to share our story, especially with an audience that might be interested because they might be wondering about these issues,” he says.

As a father of two young children, Herbst also has a personal connection to the need for greater youth cybersecurity awareness. He also appreciates the practical approach offered through the digital youth programs as well as his experience during his own SAIT training.

Stefan Herbst and family.
Herbst with his wife and sons making a personal connection to promoting cybersecurity awareness among young people.

“We all have different learning styles, but I think most people love to learn through experience,” he says. “Kids are no different and the initiatives are hands-on, workshop-based, and that’s great.”

He hopes Cybersecurity Awareness Month students will take away the same insight and inspiration he feels about finding answers and trying new ideas.

“That they feel like they can find answers to their own questions and find out for themselves is exciting.”

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

SAIT’s Digital Youth Programs, School for Advanced Digital Technology and Advantus360 are pleased to offer the following workshops and programs for Cybersecurity Awareness Month:

  • Art of the possible:
    • Designed for students in grades 6-10, this 90-minute workshop explores the security measures being taken to protect our privacy and information in our increasingly connected society. Students create and use digital signatures to send encrypted messages over the Internet that only they can decrypt.
  • Future talks with Advantus360 and with SAIT trainers.
    • Digital Youth: Future Talks is a 30-45 minute live speaker series that connects students with industry leaders as they share their personal stories, life experiences and the career paths that have led them to where they are today.
    • Designed specifically for students in grades 10-12, this Cybersecurity Month special will bring together cybersecurity professionals from Advantus360 and SAIT with students to create a forum to discover and demystify the careers of the digital future.

For more information and registration, see SAIT Youth Programs.

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