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Cyber Security Challenge and UK Cabinet Office take code breaking into the classroom

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Schoolboy errors in Hampshire school hack attack, 20,000 at risk
Schoolboy errors in Hampshire school hack attack, 20,000 at risk

The Cyber Security Challenge has joined with the UK Cabinet Office to take its security talent search into the classroom.

From September, UK pupils will be able to take part in a national code breaking challenge, following the announcement of a Cabinet Office-backed cyber security schools programme that is being delivered by the Cyber Security Challenge UK.

The competition will see teams of key stage 4 students breaking coded messages designed by industry experts and developing their own for other schools to crack.

At the end of the virtual tournament, the top scoring teams will be invited to a face-to-face final battle at the start of next year to find the first ever Cyber Security Challenge Schools Champion. The winning team will earn a £1,000 cash prize for their school, a donation from the AFCEA Academic Trust.

Stephanie Daman, CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “Securing our most valuable information online is a major priority for the UK as an economy and a society, and requires an increasing flow of new talented young people into cyber security.

“However at present, we simply don't see the numbers coming through that we need. The long term solution must start at the grassroots and that means helping teachers find new fun, exciting and accessible ways for younger audiences to discover why cyber security matters and inspire them to want to defend the UK online.

“Through this new schools programme we can help teachers take the opportunities and intellectual challenges of this exciting profession into the classroom and ensure more students are interested and ready to embark on a career as a cyber security professional.”

Chloe Smith, minister at the Cabinet Office, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that school pupils with a talent for cyber security are identified, inspired and enabled. The UK already has a world-wide reputation in education and learning and we aim to make this the same for cyber.

“The Schools Competition builds on existing Cyber Security Challenge competitions and outreach, which has until now been targeted at older students and adults. This latest initiative to introduce children in secondary education to cyber security is an excellent way of bringing talent into this area, helping young people to discover why cyber security matters and inspiring them to take up the profession. It will enable us to establish a pipeline of talented people to populate the UK cyber security job pool of the future. I would encourage as many schools as possible to participate in this exciting challenge.”

Marking the announcement, a brand new schools taster challenge has been launched and is available to play now. This new online cipher competition runs in advance of the challenge's main schools programme and has been developed by Craig Rice, an information security specialist from Royal Holloway, University of London.

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