The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) has asked 12-13-year-old girls from across the UK to enter its annual CyberFirst Girls competition, and the deadline for entries is fast approaching on Monday, January 25.
This year’s CyberFirst Girls contest has already had hundreds of schools registered to participate despite the challenges presented to the education sector by the pandemic; the contest will obviously go completely virtual in 2021.
The competition is a key part of the NCSC’s strategy to address the lack of diversity in the cybersecurity sector and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in security. As always, competitors will put their cybersecurity skills to the test, participating in a series of online puzzles covering topics such as logic, networking, and cryptography. In 2020, 12,000 girls participated.
“The CyberFirst Girls Competition is a really exciting opportunity for young people to discover more about the world of cyber security and have fun along the way,” said NCSC Deputy Director for Cyber Growth Chris Ensor.
“The countdown is now to the start of the 2021 contest, and I am delighted to see that so many schools have already signed up, despite the challenges the pandemic has presented,” he said. “It is not too late to register and I encourage schools to register now and give their students the opportunity to be named UK Cybersecurity Champions.”
Digital Minister Matt Warman added: “The cybersecurity industry is booming and needs to develop the next generation of talented people, so it’s brilliant to see the CyberFirst Girls Contest inspire students to pursue an exciting career in the industry. .
“With just one week to go, I urge girls across the country to sign up and discover the fascinating work that must be done to protect the nation from online threats.”
A student from last year’s winning team at King Edward’s School Bath said: “We really enjoyed the online round and found tools like CyberChef really useful. In our spare time, we were constantly trying to complete more challenges; if we get stuck we ask the rest of the team and do research on the internet… The CyberFirst Girls competition is amazing and we definitely recommend it to anyone, whether they ‘have done something about the issues before or not’.
Qualifying rounds will begin at noon on January 25 and run until noon on February 3, with the highest-scoring teams advancing to the regional semi-finals in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The winners of these events will advance to the Grand Final in April.
Female students in Year 8 in England and Wales, S2 in Scotland and Year 9 in Northern Ireland are eligible to participate in teams of up to four, but must ask a teacher or tutor from the school to act as their mentor and register them with line.
Openings are also open in some of NCSC’s other youth outreach programs, including February’s CyberFirst virtual course round.
Boys and girls ages 12-13 can also enroll in CyberFirst Trailblazers, while those ages 13-14 can participate in CyberFirst Adventurers. Details on how to apply for this program can be found here.