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NCSC’s CyberFirst courses see summer surge.

Interest in online cyber skills courses by female students is up 60% on 2019, agency reports.

The number of female students learning new cyber security skills showed an upsurge this summer after courses in the subject went online for the first time.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has confirmed that the number of young people taking part in its annual CyberFirst courses rose to a record 1,770 after they moved from the classroom to online at the start of Coronavirus lockdown.

CyberFirst aims to ensure greater diversity in the next generation of cyber security specialists, and the summer courses offer 14-to-17-year-olds the chance to learn about topics like digital forensics, ethical hacking, cryptography and cyber security challenges.

This year (2020) 670 more places were made available for the CyberFirst summer courses. The number of male applicants rose from 1,824 in 2019 to 2,398 this year (a 31% rise), while for the number of female applicants went from 930 to 1,492 (a 60% rise).

The initiative is offered at three levels: CyberFirst Defenders (for those aged 14-15), CyberFirst Futures (15-16), CyberFirst Advanced (16-17). They aim to enable pupils develop digital and problem-solving skills and introduce them to the fundamentals of the cyber threat landscape.

“Ensuring a diverse talent pipeline is vital in keeping the UK one of the safest places in Europe to live and work online,” said Chris Ensor, Deputy Director for Cyber Growth at the NCSC, “CyberFirst plays a key role in developing the next generation of cyber experts.”

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