Program to reduce digital skills gap
VERMONT- A national cybersecurity program designed specifically for high school girls has launched, to encourage more young women into the industry and reduce the digital skills gap. Girls need to be at least 13 years old and in grades nine, 10, 11, or 12 to qualify. The program awards winning participants with cash prizes of up to $1,000 and college scholarships of $500. There are three stages to the program: CyberStart Assess, CyberStart Game, and CyberStart Compete.
The girls-only cybersecurity program, Girls Go CyberStart, which has officially launched, is the result of a partnership between 27 state governors and SANS Institute.
Girls who want to participate in the free program do not need any experience in gaming or computer science.
The interactive extracurricular activity consists of three stages, with each stage featuring a series of digital challenges that are designed to introduce participants to important concepts in the field of cybersecurity. When registered, girls will be sent a link to the first stage, CyberStart Assess, which consists of a series of questions that measure existing knowledge, problem-solving skills, and the potential for a career in cybersecurity.
To progress to the next two stages of the program, CyberStart Game and CyberStart Complete, participants must be registered with a “club,” which can be set up easily by a schoolteacher, administrator or equivalent.
CyberStart Game involves learning cybersecurity techniques to tackle real-world challenges, including cracking codes, finding security flaws, and dissecting a cyber criminal’s digital trail. Finally, CyberStart Compete is for the best performing teams from each participating state, and will see them compete in a national online Capture the Flag competition.
The program is offering multiple prizes for completion. Three schools will be entered into a prize drawing to win $1,000; clubs with the highest number of girls registered will win $1,000, $750, and $500 respectively; the top-scoring Capture the Flag teams both nationally and in each state will win cash prizes for students and their schools; and at least 10 high-scoring high school juniors or seniors per state will win $500 college scholarships.
To register for the program girls, teachers or administrators associated with a school or organization need to sign up at www.girlsgocyberstart.org/interest.