National Cyber Security Centre says we need more girl security professionals

CyberFirst Girls Competition aims to find fresh talent to protect UK Plc from potential cyber attacks

Posted 26 January 2017 by Gary Flood

Female school students have been challenged to pit their tech skills against one another through a special competition to find the best and brightest potential new recruits for the government’s drive to beef up our national digital defences.

That’s via its new CyberFirst Girls Competition, set up by GCHQ’s new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is trying to attract girls aged 13-15.

NCSC wants to see teams of four, aided by a teacher as a guardian and mentor, test their mettle through a staggered series of challenges to test their cyber skills against their peers from all over the UK. You start off with a set of online challenges covering four main cyber security topics in a gameplay-style experience, but those puzzles become progressively harder, allowing pupils to stretch their learning and gain further knowledge that could help them in their everyday lives, NCSC promises.

The top 10 teams will then progress to a national final in London in March, with a prize of a £1,000 worth of IT kit for the winning school and various individual prizes for team members.

The cyber experts behind CyberFirst Girls say they’ll make a set of hints and tips available to help the prospective security mavens through the online phase, while a pack for teachers will also be provided.

“The CyberFirst Girls Competition allows teams of young women a glimpse of [an] exciting world, and provides a great opportunity to use new skills,” claimed GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan at the kick-off this week.

“My advice to all potential applicants would be enjoy the experience, and I look forward to meeting some of you.”

The Competition is now open for entry, with full registration of teams from the middle of next month: the online competition must be completed between the 27th February and the 6th March 2017, be aware.

NCSC says the competition is important as well as fun and challenging, as only 10% of the global cyber workforce are female, meaning potentially millions of new recruits could be missing a great career opportunity.

Hannigan, who has just resigned from his position after two years in post, himself says he already works alongside “some truly brilliant women” who “protect the UK from all manner of online threats”.

ThinkDigitalPartners.com encourages participation, and good luck to all entrants!