Cyber Games Scotland, organised by Cyber Security Challenge UK, launches to schools this May and is part of a dedicated programme of Scottish cyber security careers activities for 2016. The programme will also include a fully funded summer school in Glasgow, CyberFirst Futures. The residential course is run in partnership by Smallpeice Trust, GCHQ and QA, and will give pupils first-hand experience in defending against cyber attacks.

The cyber programme has the backing of Skills Development Scotland’s Digital World campaign and the overall aim of both initiatives is to give young people a taste of an exciting industry which offers an array of job opportunities in Scotland. Indeed, the 2015 ISC2 Global Information Security Workforce Study forecasts a global shortage of 1.5 million cyber security professionals by 2020 while a PwC report found that cyber attacks cost UK firms an average of £1.4 million per incident.

Cyber Games Scotland is organised by Cyber Security Challenge UK as part of its nationwide schools competitions and is open to pupils aged between 14 and 17. The competition will give hundreds of young people across the country the opportunity to delve deep into the world of ethical hacking through a series of carefully constructed activities and challenges taking place between May and October.

The first hurdle for Cyber Games teams is to create their own ciphers (an algorithm used to encrypt or decrypt data), which will be shared online with other schools whose students have to try to break the codes. Those who make it through the preliminary rounds will go head-to-head with other finalists to demonstrate their code breaking skills to industry experts in a series of live, timed tests.

Previous competitions have involved a wide range of cyber security activities such as conducting an investigation of a hackers’ hotel room to find passwords to access computer systems, various forms of social engineering which highlight human vulnerabilities in cyber, and performing digital forensics on networks in order to intercept and block malicious attacks.. Importantly, teams must adhere to the strict ethical and legal checks that real-life businesses and law enforcement organisations must abide by.

Meanwhile, the CyberFirst Futures camp is a 4 day residential course for 16-17 year olds. Designed by experts from GCHQ and delivered by The Smallpeice Trust and academia, the course will take place at Glasgow Caledonian University from 26-29 July with 50 places available on a first come basis. All places are fully funded so it is hoped that the residential course will attract applications from pupils of every background.

Martin Beaton, Cyber Security Network Integrator for Scotland, said: “The programme of events that we have planned for 2016 is a fun and engaging way for pupils to learn about the amazing careers that exist in cyber security. The industry already offers huge commercial possibilities that are only going to increase as more and more of our lives move online. It’s important that we act now to ensure that we have the talent pool needed to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Jason Stanton, schools programme manager, Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “Cyber knowledge is invaluable in today’s globally connected world. Taking part in clubs and competitions like this will allow students to learn and get excited about careers in cyber security, a field which is crying out for more talent. By engaging with industry they can talk to real life professionals and see for themselves what their future career path may look like. The more we can inspire young people, the more we can work to address the huge skills gap within the cyber security sector.”

Claire Gillespie, Key Sector Manager for ICT and digital technology skills at Skills Development Scotland, said: “Cyber Security is one of the many growth areas in Scotland’s digital sector, and is something that affects us all, from businesses to consumers. Cyber security as a career does not just require computer scientists, it’s ideal for those with inquisitive minds who enjoy problem solving. Engaging young people in cyber related subjects is vital if we are going to have the talent for the future.”

James Alterman, head of business development, The Smallpeice Trust, said: “The cyber sector has seen great investment in recent years and the UK now earns £2bn in cyber security exports. This emerging sector is driving the need for new recruits with good Maths and STEM skills, as cyber security will become a key component for many businesses home and individuals.”

Scotland is taking a global lead on the cyber security skills issue with the introduction of a National Progression Award (NPA) in cyber security, which is currently available through schools, colleges and training providers.

School teams can sign up to play Cyber Games now. Register before 17th May:



Glasgow Caledonian University

Skills Development Scotland

Digital World Campaign