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Government’s cyber discovery programme attracts 20,000 youths in just six weeks

The Government’s Cyber Discovery Programme, which is part of its CyberFirst initiative to help youngsters join the cyber security industry, has attracted over 20,000 young boys and girls, a mere six weeks after it was launched.

The Cyber Discovery Programme is being led by the likes of Cyber Security Challenge UK, SANS Institute, FutureLearn and BT and offers exclusive cyber security training to 10-13-year-olds.

Last year, the government launched CyberFirst, a new programme that aimed to ‘inspire and support young people considering roles in cyber security’ and which was funded from a £1.9 billion corpus reserved for the National Cyber Security Strategy.

The first signs of the programme’s success were visible after when US defence major Lockheed Martin decided to open a new ‘Cyber Works‘ centre in Gloucester where the firm said it would hire 90 cyber security experts to develop cutting-edge capabilities and to help others pursue higher roles in the cyber security and intelligence industries.

The centre is now playing an active role in the government’s CyberFirst Scheme and is acting as a hub for collaboration with government, industry, academia and international partners on Research & Development, skills and training.

In another feather in the cap for the CyberFirst initiative, the Cyber Discovery Programme, which is a part of the former and is exclusively aimed at imparting extra-curricular learning programmes on cyber security to 10-13-year-olds, has attracted as many as 20,000 young boys and girls a mere six week after it was launched.

The programme requires no prior knowledge of cyber security from students but makes students go through an online assessment to gauge their suitability for the programme.

‘CyberStart Assess consists of a set of online questions that measure an individual’s existing knowledge of and aptitude for computer security. Based on identifiable, measurable key skills and traits, it identifies those who possess the innate qualities of an effective security practitioner. No prior computer knowledge is needed and students from all educational backgrounds are welcomed,’ reads the programme website.

‘Students begin their cyber security education by taking part in CyberStart Game. Using a suite of online challenges and games, players take on the role of a security agent and tackle realistic examples of tests and threats faced by cyber security practitioners in the field. Security disciplines such as Linux, cryptography and programming are all introduced and developed in a fun and engaging environment,’ it adds.

Explaining its approach, the programme says that with the UK economy becoming increasingly digital, there is a critical need to rapidly increase the number of cyber security professionals in the UK. As such, ‘cyber security is now central to national security and to ensuring that the UK is a safe place to live and work’.

Out of 20,000 students who have signed up for thr Cyber Discovery programme, 2,000 students are from London, 500 from Manchester, 600 from Birmingham, and another 300 from Nottingham.