Free virtual cybersecurity school launched for teenagers in lockdown

Free virtual lessons on cybersecurity are to be offered to thousands of young people in lockdown as part of a government scheme to develop cyber skills.

The Cyber Discovery virtual school will be aimed at students aged between 13 and 18, offering educational games and activities which build cybersecurity skills.

Teenagers can sign up for the school for free in order to gain access to its central interactive game, as well as free weekly webinars from industry experts.

The new online tool will be an extension of an existing scheme run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – its annual CyberFirst summer courses for about 1,000 students designed to improve cyber skills in young people.

Those courses are being moved online this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the new virtual school to offer additional extracurricular activities to do at home for free, and available to more teenagers.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said: “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 cybersecurity professional.

“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.”

The CyberFirst programme also includes a range of bursary and apprenticeship schemes, as well as a girls’ only competition for 12 and 13-years-olds, and up to five-day development courses at UK colleges and universities for those aged 12 to 19.

The scheme is part of a government initiative to seek out people with potential in cybersecurity and offer then the support, skills, experience and exposure to pursue cybersecurity as a career path.

NCSC chief executive 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.”

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and Cyber Security Challenge UK have also announced that teenagers will be able to access its own cyber skills platform, CyberLand, for free during the coming months as part of their own scheme to boost interest in the subject.