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North London school wins NCSC girls’ cyber challenge

Highgate School in North London is the winner of this year’s CyberFirst Girls security competition

A team of four girls from Highgate School in North London have been crowned the winners of the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC’s) CyberFirst Girls Competition after beating more than 6,500 rivals in a nationwide competition designed to encourage and inspire more girls to consider future careers in cyber.

This year’s final round – which was held virtually thanks to the pandemic – saw teams of 12 and 13 year olds from 10 schools participate in a series of cryptography, logic and networking challenges to work through a fictional scenario where a number of internet of things (IoT) devices, including smart kettles and mirrors, were infected with malware.

“Congratulations to all the teams in this year’s final – especially the girls from Highgate School for their winning performance,” said NCSC CEO Lindy Cameron. “This year’s competition has been another success, and we’re particularly grateful to the teachers who supported their students through the challenges of the past year and industry partners for inspiring girls to explore their passion for technology.

“I’m really excited by the number of girls that have shown real interest and aptitude for cyber security – and this will hopefully mean more women in the cyber workforce of the future with the skills they need to protect the UK from online threats.”

Digital minister Matt Warman added: “Well done to everyone who made it to the final and congratulations to the pupils from Highgate School for being crowned champions.

“This year’s competition has enabled thousands of girls from across the UK to boost their cyber skills and learn about a career in the industry. Thanks to the hard work of the NCSC, I know it will have inspired a new generation of female cyber defenders who will be protecting people and businesses online in the years to come.”

The other 2021 Grand Finalists were Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College, Bradford Grammar School, Bristol Grammar School, Broughton Hall High School, Chelmsford County High School for Girls, Gwernyfed High School, Highgate School, Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, St Margaret’s School for Girls, and The Perse School.

The annual CyberFirst Girls Competition is open to girls in Year 8 in England and Wales, S2 in Scotland, and Year 9 in Northern Ireland, and more than 46,000 people have taken part since its inception in 2017.

The wider CyberFirst programme offers a range of free opportunities to help both boys and girls learn more about security and support their interest in the field, with various schemes and courses for children of different age groups. Booking for this year’s summer courses will open on 29 April 2021, and more information can be found on the NCSC’s website.

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