National Cyber Security Centre launches schools competition for girls

Written by Jenni Davidson on 24 January 2017 in News

The National Cyber Security Centre has launched a competition aiming to get more girls to consider a career in cyber security

CyberFirst competition logo - Image credit: National Cyber Security Centre

The National Cyber Security Centre has launched a competition for schools with aim of encouraging more girls to consider a career in cyber security.

The CyberFirst Girls Competition is open to teams of four girls aged 13 to 15, plus a teacher to act as team guardian and coach, at schools in the UK.

The competition has two parts, with the first round taking place online and involving a range of challenges in four different cyber areas: logic and coding, networking, cyber security and cryptography.

They will be at different levels of difficulty, from easy to very hard.


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The competition guidelines note: “We don’t anticipate that any team will complete all the challenges in the time allowed and some of the challenges would be considered hard for current cyber professionals but we would love to be proved wrong.”

The top 10 teams from the first round will then be invited to a grand final in London on 27 March, where they’ll investigate some suspicious cyber activity, present their findings and try to solve the crime.

The competition winners will get £1,000 of IT equipment for the school as well as individual prizes for the team members.

Robert Hannigan, director of GCHQ, the UK Government department that the National Cyber Security Centre belongs to, said: “I work alongside some truly brilliant women who help protect the UK from all manner of online threats. 

“The CyberFirst Girls Competition allows teams of young women a glimpse of this exciting world and provides a great opportunity to use new skills.”

The competition aims to contribute towards improving gender equality in the cyber security sector, where currently only 10 per cent of the global workforce is female.  

Organisers are keen that even if schools cannot attend the final, which is supported with travel expenses, still enter teams into the online element.

Alison Whitney, deputy director of digital services at the NCSC, said: “Women can, and do, make a huge difference in cyber security – this competition could inspire many more to take their first steps into this dynamic and rewarding career. 

The online part of the competition runs from 27 February to 6 March and pre-registration for schools is open now.

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