GCHQ to make spies of tech-savvy teenage girls

Competition will pit teams of girls against each other to test their security skills

Teenage girls across the UK are being invited to test their hacking skills in a cybersecurity competition, in a bid to raise interest and increase the number of women joining security agencies.

The CyberFirst Girls competition, hosted by GCHQ's newly formed National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), will pit young security enthusiasts against each other in a series of challenges designed to test cyber skills that are sorely needed across all industries.

Girls aged 13-15 will be able to enter the competition in teams of four to engage in preliminary online challenges, with the possibility of advancing to the national final held in London in March. This initial stage will last one-week, between 27 February and 6 March, and consist of puzzles in four categories: Logic and coding, networking, cyber security and cryptography. 

The top ten teams will then compete against each other in a series of tasks that challenge participants to investigate suspicious cyber activity and identify the source of the threats.

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"I work alongside some truly brilliant women who help protect the UK from all manner of online threats," said GCHQ director Robert Hannigan. "The CyberFirst Girls competition allows teams of young women a glimpse of this exciting world and provides a great opportunity to use new skills."

The pupils from the winning team will each take home individual prizes, and their school's IT department will receive 1,000 worth of new equipment.

Teachers from all subjects are encouraged to enter, as there are no knowledge or computer skill requirements for pupils, and a single school may enter multiple teams.

The competition forms part of the new National Cyber Security Strategy unveiled in November 2016, which aims to address the cyber skills gap - a problem that has seen women massively underrepresented in the industry. Globally women make up only 10% of the entire cyber workforce, and in the UK the number of women employed in computer services accounts for just 16%.

CyberFirst will also be launching a series of free activity days and courses in February 2017, for pupils in Year 8 through Year 13, which will give students the possibility of applying for a CyberFirst Student Bursary of 4,000 per year for undergraduate study.

Teachers can now pre-register their interest at the NCSC website, where they will receive an information and Q&A pack. Once registered, teams will then be invited to register fully for the competition from 13 February.

Featured Resources

Digitally perfecting the supply chain

How new technologies are being leveraged to transform the manufacturing supply chain

Download now

Three keys to maximise application migration and modernisation success

Harness the benefits that modernised applications can offer

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

The 3 approaches of Breach and Attack Simulation technologies

A guide to the nuances of BAS, helping you stay one step ahead of cyber criminals

Download now


cyber security

GCHQ boss says UK must be vigilant againt Chinese tech firms

25 Feb 2019

Most Popular

operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020
mergers and acquisitions

Xerox to nominate directors to HP's board – reports

22 Jan 2020
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020