Press Release

National challenge will develop schoolgirls' cyber security skills

Teenage girls from across the UK are being invited to pit their tech skills against one another in a GCHQ competition to find the best and brightest candidates to protect the nation from future cyber attacks.

Press release - 18 Jan 2017

The CyberFirst Girls Competition, set up by GCHQ's new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), is an important step to knock down barriers preventing women from joining the fight against online crime.

Only 10 per cent of the global cyber workforce are female, meaning millions of British women may be missing out on a career they could excel in.

Girls aged 13-15 can enter the competition in teams of four, plus a teacher who will act as a guardian and mentor.

The pupils will be put through a series of challenges to test their cyber security skills against young women from all over the UK, with the top 10 teams progressing to a national final in London in March.

GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan 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. My advice to all potential applicants would be enjoy the experience and I look forward to meeting some of you."

 

The victorious contestants will take home individual prizes and their school will receive IT equipment to the value of £1,000. 

There will be hints and tips available to help the students through the online phase and a teacher's guide to help make the most of the competition.

The Government is fully committed to defending against cyber threats and address the cyber skills gap to develop and grow talent. A five year National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) was announced in November 2016, supported by £1.9billion of transformational investment.

The new NCSC will provide a single, central body for cyber security at a national level. It will manage national cyber security incidents, carry out real-time threat analysis and provide tailored sectoral advice. 

Alison, who is a deputy director 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. Having worked in cyber security for over a decade, it is a line of work I would strongly recommend to anybody, and one where lots more women could make a really positive impact on the world.  It's a fantastic career choice where team work, ingenuity and creative thinking are highly valued attributes and the rewards can be substantial."

 

Team Guardians can pre-register their interest from 18 January where downloads to a teacher's pack, T&Cs and Q&As can be found at www.ncsc.gov.uk/events/cyberfirst-girls-competition.  

Teams will then be invited to the competition website for full registration from 13 February.


Notes for Editors

GCHQ will be the parent body for the NCSC, meaning that it can draw on the world-class skills and sensitive capabilities of that organisation. But the UK Government can't do this alone. Every citizen, business and organisation must play their part.

Further information about the NCSC can be found at www.ncsc.gov.uk or follow us on Twitter @NCSC. 

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is one of the three UK Intelligence and Security Agencies, along with MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). GCHQ works to protect the UK and its citizens from a range of threats to national security, including from terrorism, serious and organised crime and cyber attack. It also works to protect UK forces wherever they are deployed and, through the NCSC, is helping to make the UK the safest place to live and work online. 

For more information about this news release, contact the NCSC Press Office on pressoffice@ncsc.gov.uk or 0207 147 4401 / 4449.

About CyberFirst

CyberFirst is a GCHQ-inspired initiative which aims to provide secondary school-aged students with the tools and knowledge to live and work securely online and highlight the wide range of career options available to them. In February 2017, CyberFirst will launch an ambitious programme of free activity days and residential courses from Year 8 through to Year 13, culminating in the opportunity to apply for a CyberFirst Student Bursary of £4,000 per year of undergraduate study at university. The initiative is funded by the National Cyber Security Programme in the Cabinet Office and forms part of the National Cyber Security Strategy

See https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/new-talent for more information.