As part of the free lessons, youngsters can learn how to crack codes, fix security flaws and dissect criminals’ digital trails while progressing through a game as a cyber agent. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) said this will help them develop important skills needed for future jobs, particularly in cyber security.
“This new initiative will give teenagers something fun and educational to do from home and provide them with a glimpse into the life of a cyber security professional,” said UK Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman. “We have a world-leading cyber sector which plays a crucial role protecting the country and our digital economy, so it is absolutely vital we continue to inspire the next generation of tech talent to help maintain the UK’s strong position,” he said.
The school will provide free weekly webinars run by industry experts teaching fundamental security disciplines such as digital forensics, cryptography and operating systems. Thousands of young people are being encouraged to join the initiative to create the UK’s next generation of professional cyber defenders.
“At a time when schools remain closed to most children, the online initiative aims to inspire future talent to work in the cyber security sector and give students a variety of extracurricular activities to do from the safety of their homes,” DCMS said.
The move comes as the government announces a number of other online training courses to give UK school pupils the opportunity to learn and develop cyber security skills, including the launch of the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) popular CyberFirst summer courses. The courses are moving online this year to help more than a thousand 14 to 17-year-olds develop important cyber skills from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
NCSC Chief Executive Officer Ciaran Martin said: “Technology is helping us all cope with the coronavirus crisis and is playing an essential role in keeping our businesses moving and our society connected.
“It has never been more important for our young people to keep engaged and learn how to protect our digital world – and I’m delighted to see our instructor led CyberFirst summer courses made available online.”
Enrolled students will learn how to code and carry out cybersecurity operations in an instructor-led virtual classroom to help guide the students through the programme and build a sense of camaraderie within each cohort.
The National Crime Agency and Cyber Security Challenge UK will also offer teenagers the chance to access their online cyber skills platform CyberLand for free during the coming months. In the game designed to teach teenagers the fundamentals of cyber security, players protect the virtual city “CyberLand” from cyber attacks while learning key skills.
“Many young people have a keen interest in technology and have developed impressive cyber skills. The virtual cyber school and CyberFirst programmes are great initiatives which will support this next generation of cyber defenders in realising their potential,” said Jim Stokley, Deputy Director at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit.
“We’ve also partnered with Cyber Security Challenge UK to offer free access to their online platform Cyberland where young people will find games that encourage them to improve cyber skills safely and legally,” he said.
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