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Could You Be The Next Bond? Jane Bond! GCHQ Seeks Teenage Girls

20 Jan 2017

Could You Be The Next Bond? Jane Bond! GCHQ Seeks Teenage Girls

GCHQ, the Government Communications Headquarters of the UK, is launching a competition to lure talented teenage girls at an early stage to work in the world of cyber security.

The CyberFirst Girls Competition, to be launched next month by GCHQ’s new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), is an attempt by spy chiefs to get 13 to 15 year old girls interested in a career in cyber security. It is also a move to redress the balance of a traditional male-oriented sector where only around one in ten employees worldwide is female.

The competition will see teams of four girls from the same school mentored by one of their teachers. The first leg of the competition, to be completed by all teams between the 27th February and the 6th March 2017, is an online challenge, based around four fundamental cyber security topics, featuring puzzles of ever-increasing complexity.

The top ten teams nationwide will then be invited, along with their teacher, to a grand final in London this March where the girls will be pitted against each other in what the NCSC’s website describes as a mission to ‘investigate some suspicious cyber activity, present their findings and solve who’s behind the crime.’

The winning team can look forward to IT equipment worth £1,000 for their school.

A spokesperson for GCHQ said: “Teenage girls from across the UK are being invited to pit their tech skills against one another in a GCHQ competition to find the best and brightest candidates to protect the nation from future cyber attacks. Only 10 per cent of the global cyber workforce are female, meaning millions of British women may be missing out on a career they could excel in.”

Buckingham University’s head of education and employment, Alan Smithers, praised the work of women in the field throughout history, saying: “Females played an important part in the work of Bletchley Park during the war. They are very systematic and careful and you would expect them to be able to do very well in this field.

“Teenagers use sophisticated technology as an everyday part of their social life and so it is odd that girls shouldn’t think of using these skills in their future careers. Girls will see that it isn’t something mysterious but a natural extension of what they do every day through social media,” added Mr Smithers.

And commenting on the crucial role which women can play in the realm, Robert Hannigan, director of GCHQ, said: “I work alongside some truly brilliant women who help protect the UK from all manner of online threats.”

“The CyberFirst Girls Competition allows teams of young women a glimpse of this exciting world and provides a great opportunity to use new skills. My advice to all potential applicants would be: enjoy the experience and I look forward to meeting some of you,” added Mr Hannigan.

If you are a teenage girl who is interested in putting a team together for the challenge to become the next Jane Bond, or you are a teacher who thinks that some of your talented students could win the GCHQ competition or at least benefit from taking part, then you can find out more about the CyberFirst Girls Competition on the NCSC website.

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