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Girlguiding hosts interactive cyber security workshop

100 Guides from South West England took part in an NCSC event to learn more about security fundamentals

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has partnered with Girlguiding South West England to run an interactive cyber security workshop for girls aged 12-14 under the auspices of its popular CyberFirst skills scheme.

Part of the NCSC’s drive to get girls and young women interested in cyber security and increase representation in the field, the event saw 100 Guides gather at the University of West England to take part in a range of activities such as website customisation, use of big data, digital forensics and cryptography.

All the tasks in the programme are tailored to children who are soon to select their GCSE choices, and are supposed to help them understand the variety of jobs and career paths that computer science could offer. The Guides explored a number of fictional scenarios to help get across the cyber security message, including – in a somewhat timely exercise – using digital forensics and open source intelligence to track down patient zero in an infectious disease outbreak.

“It’s great to see Guides from across the South West learning about the fascinating world of cyber security, enabling them to see how worthwhile and fulfilling a career in this field can be,” said Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for skills and growth.

“We will continue to support and encourage the UK’s next generation of cyber professionals, through our world leading CyberFirst programme, helping to attract the most diverse minds,” said Carole Pennington, chief commissioner for Girlguiding South West England. “We were delighted to be working with NCSC on our first CyberFirst activity day.

“Part of the ethos of Girlguiding is that girls can do anything, and events like this are key to our members being able to try out a range of activities with experts in their field. These activity days form part of the Region Swebots programme [a local scheme created by Girlguiding South West England to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and maths, or Stem, subjects].

“The most recent resource, On the net, was produced in collaboration with NCSC and has proved to be very popular with our members of all ages,” she said. “Awareness of cyber security is vital for all our members, and we hope that many more girls will have the opportunity to take part in activity days like these which provide a fun way of learning about the topic.” 

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Meanwhile, the NCSC’s new-look CyberFirst Girls competition hosted its regional contests on 8 February 2020 at 18 venues around the UK. Now in its fourth year, the popular competition attracted entries from over 12,000 girls at more than 520 schools up and down the country.

The event, targeted at girls aged 12 and 13, saw teams of up to four take on a series of codebreaking challenges set by the NCSC and other security experts. The winners of the local contests will now move forward to a grand final to be held in Wales, where they will face off in a bid to become national champions.

More information on the CyberFirst scheme for young people can be found on the NCSC’s website.

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