Four pupils from the Grimsby Institute of Further & Higher Education have been crowned the new Cyber Security Challenge Schools champions at Cyber Games 2.0, during which Britain’s top teen code-breakers took on the role of counter-terrorism professionals.
Held at the Cheltenham Science Festival and Cheltenham College, the competition challenged students to crack encoded systems and free a hostage trapped within a secret location in the school. It wasorganised with global technology and defence company Raytheon and The Smallpeice Trust, who run hands-on school exercises in engineering and technology, and funded by the Cabinet Office through Government’s National Cyber Security Programme.
Launched at last year’s Cheltenham Science Festival, the Cyber Security Challenge Schools Programme is delivered in association with major employers, professional bodies and other leading figures in UK cyber security including BT, Cassidian, Sophos, CompTIA, QinetiQ, eskills UK and Bletchley Park. Aiming to develop practical and usable skills in high demand from the cyber security industry,the programme begins with teaching packs designed by sponsors to spark students’ interest in code-breaking, the building blocks of securing valuable information online.
The lesson plans, developed in collaboration with education leaders, hone pupils skills by not only teaching them how to crack codes, but also encouraging them to apply what they have learnt and develop their own ‘uncrackable ciphers’ which are then posted online. Students from each participating school are then asked to crack each other’s ciphers in order to score sufficient points to qualify for a Cyber Games final, where the schools champions are identified.
The first schools competition finale – Cyber Games 1.0 – was held at Warwick University in March.
Francis Maude, Minister for Cabinet Office with responsibility for the UK’s Cyber Security Strategy, said: “Congratulations to this round’s winners, all the finalists and their teachers. We were thrilled at the level of schools participation in the first Cyber Games and we have supported the Challenge with further funding from the National Cyber Security Programme so that the competition runs twice yearly and more schools are able to take part.
The Cyber Games 2.0 competition involves playing games and cracking codes aided by a suite of imaginative teaching resources. This helps show young people that cyber security can be a great career for school children to aspire to. In funding this innovative and exciting Cyber Games, we aim to help these talented teams take their aptitude for code-cracking into their working lives and consider careers in cyber security.”
‘These Cyber Games events are hugely important for both the pupils involved and in the wider context of opening up cyber security to a new generation’, says Brian Higgins, Schools Programme Manager at the Cyber Security Challenge UK. ‘Basic online safety is invaluable in today’s online, global workplace, so what makes a website, network or mobile app secure must be covered in schools. Talented students need a safe outlet to express their cyber skills. This is where Schools programme can play such an important role. By not only introducing pupils to the exciting world of cyber security at an early age, but also giving them an opportunity to talk to real life professionals at the likes of Raytheon, pupils can see for themselves there are exciting jobs available doing this for real.’