Children across the country will have the opportunity to crack codes, fix security flaws and examine the trails left behind by cyber criminals as part of a new learning experience they can take part in from home.
The initiative from the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the SANS Institute and others comes as coronavirus lockdown measures mean schools still remain closed to most children – but the online courses hope to inspire interest in careers in the cybersecurity industry, while providing something to do.
As part of the Cyber Discovery Virtual Cyber School, kids will be able to try over 200 cybersecurity challenges based around cracking codes, finding and fixing security flaws and dissecting digital trails left behind by criminals, all as part of a game. Through playing, young people will learn the concepts and ideas that real agents use when dealing with real cyberattacks.
As part of the school, information security experts will run weekly webinars to teach viewers about security disciplines including digital forensics, cryptography and operating systems.
"Cybersecurity is a fascinating field packed with opportunities for innovation and to make the online world more secure. It spans every part of society and has a huge role in our future security and technology prospects as a nation," said James Lyne, chief technology officer at SANS, the provider behind Cyber Discovery.
"This is your chance to learn how to 'forensicate' like a digital Sherlock Holmes, close down vulnerabilities before the hackers find them, and break codes."
The launch of Cyber Discovery comes alongside the government announcing a number of other online courses around cybersecurity skills.
They include the CyberFirst summer course, which has been running since 2016 but is moving online this year in order to run under social-distancing measures. Students taking part in CyberFirst will have the opportunity to learn to code, as well as learning about cybersecurity in virtual classrooms.
"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," said Ciaran Martin, CEO of the NCSC.
A third course is available from the National Crime Agency and Cyber Security Challenge UK. The free CyberLand game sees players tasked with protecting a virtual city from hackers while also teaching security skills.
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