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UK school kids take part in cyber security workshops

Schoolchildren across the UK have been taking part in the CyberFirst EmPower Cyber Week events, designed to bring the world of cyber security to life.

user icon Nastasha Tupas
Mon, 15 Nov 2021
cybersecurity workshops
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Hundreds of pupils aged 12 to 13 took part in the educational sessions organised by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ.

The on-demand, online presentations covered topics including networking, artificial intelligence, biometrics, cryptography and strong passwords, with the content delivered by cyber security experts across industry, government and academia.

Some pupils also attended in-person EmPower events, including at the NCSC’s Nova South headquarters in London, and two events at GCHQ sites in Manchester and Scarborough.


The opportunities for pupils to learn more about cyber don’t end there, though, and I’d really encourage schools to register for the next CyberFirst Girls Competition – including those who have never even thought of taking part before,” said Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for Cyber Growth.

According to Ensor, events like CyberFirst EmPower would help inspire a generation of upcoming cyber experts.

“I’m delighted that so many pupils have taken part in our EmPower sessions to learn more about what the exciting world of cyber security involves."

“It is thanks to the collaboration between government, industry and academia that events like this can succeed and help inspire the next generation of cyber experts."

This year’s contributors to EmPower Cyber Week have come from across the cyber profession, with organisations including BT, TESCO, the Royal Air Force and the Home Office all involved.

Some of the CyberFirst EmPower Cyber Week sessions have included:

  • The Marshmallow Challenge: a physical task using spaghetti pasta noodles to show how networks operate;
  • Explicit Encodings: introducing Morse Code and how messages can often get muddled; and
  • Internet of Things: covering how to think like a security consultant, asking questions such as: why your fridge has a Wi-Fi sticker on it and where the video from your smart doorbell disappears off to?

Girls who enjoyed EmPower Cyber Week have also been encouraged to take part in the CyberFirst Girls Competition, which has seen more than 43,000 girls take part since it was launched in 2017.

The contest aims to inspire girls aged 12 to 13 to consider a career in the cyber security industry where women are still under-represented, making up just 16 per cent of the UK cyber sector workforce.

Schoolgirls in Year 8, S2 and Year 9 in Northern Ireland are encouraged to take part in teams of up to four so they can try their hand at fun and challenging cyber puzzles, and this year a new format has been introduced to encourage participation across the UK.

The EmPower sessions can still be accessed via the UK NCSC website, alongside resource packs which teachers can use to deliver classes themselves.

[Related: FBI external emails hacked; hackers send out bogus messages]

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha Tupas

Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans affairs, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. She is a co-author of a book titled The Stories Women Journalists Tell, published by Penguin Random House. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. Nastasha started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia.

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