America's National Science Center (NSC) has released an online game designed to educate children about computer malware.
The game, entitled "Cyber Swarm Defenders," is available through Jabbersmack, a social networking site designed for use by children below the age of 14.
"Educating students about cyber security threats and how to counteract them is imperative," said Mike Krieger, the Army deputy chief information officer, who serves as the secretary of the Army's proponent for the NSC. "Installing the game on a social network site allows us to reach a variety of students and an existing community of users."
Cyber Swarm Defenders is described as a strategy game built around cyber security education and a variety of mini-exercises, relating to viruses, spyware, Trojan horses and the like. Players will be able to progress through levels and earn points, badges and game coins by strengthening their defences.
The game contains a parental control feature, as well as a number of other unspecified child-safety requirements.
The NSC is a public-private partnership between the US Army and not-for-profit organisation National Science Center Inc., set up to encourage and improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) ability in young students. The game is part of the NSC's Cyber Ops education outreach programme.
"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," stated Ron Ross, chairman of the NSC. "Our additional focus on cyber threats also significantly enhances the value proposition of the NSC Partnership."