CyberFirst Students Get Taste of CNI Security

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Scores of teenage students have been given some vital hands-on experience of working in the cybersecurity sector after taking part in the UK government’s CyberFirst initiative.

This particular program was run by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and saw around 45 students aged 13-17 work alongside industry experts at its Workington facility.

Sessions covered a range of topics including device security and understanding networks, with an emphasis on developing the skills needed to protect critical digital infrastructure.

The course is said to be part of an £80m investment in cyber-safety by the NDA over the next five years.

“The CyberFirst initiative is a pivotal part of the government’s National Cyber Security Programme,” said NDA security information and services director, Rob Higgins.

“Cybersecurity and resilience is vital to the NDA and its estate, so encouraging young people into cyber-related careers will go a long way in helping to keep us safe in the future from the growing cyber-threat.”

CyberFirst was developed by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as a way to encourage the next generation of talented young professionals into the industry.

UK firms are approaching a cybersecurity skills “cliff edge” as older professionals retire without newer recruits taking their place in the same numbers, according to the eighth Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISWS).

In fact, two-thirds of UK companies reported not having enough cybersecurity personnel, with 47% claiming the reason is a dearth of qualified applicants.

It’s a problem mirrored elsewhere round the globe, with a shortfall of roles worldwide set to reach 1.8 million by 2022.

Rob Norris, VP head of enterprise & cybersecurity at Fujitsu EMEIA, welcomed the latest CyberFirst program.

“In a world of connected devices and, in future, more and more AI and machine learning, ensuring we give future generations the skills to protect data is vital and it comes at a key time,” he said.

“In light of recent attacks it is especially important that we, as a nation, do more to help the next generation understand the positive impact this knowledge will have on their lives and future careers.”

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