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Security research highlights central role children play

Research highlights the importance of children when it considering online safety

  • New research highlights children’s growing influence in helping family members stay safe online
  • Highest growing job sector requires environment where talent pipeline can thrive to meet demand
  • 162% increase in young women participating in CyberFirst Girls competition as NCSC look to crown National Champion this week

Tech savvy children are a vital tool in keeping households safe online, it has been revealed on the eve of the final to crown the UK’s sharpest young female cyber minds.

GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) yesterday revealed more people think children are one of the main sources of advice when protecting ourselves online, ahead of work colleagues, banks or broadband providers.

The research shows children are four times more likely to be sought out for guidance ahead of search engines, such as Google, when online accounts are being created and importantly when checking the security settings on our connected devices.

NCSC Deputy Director for Skills and Growth Chris Ensor said:

“Children are a vital cog in protecting online devices but we can’t emphasise enough the importance of increasing the numbers of those actively participating in cyber security.

“Whether this is for future professionals who are seeking a career within national security or on a wider societal context ensuring children understand how networks work and not just how to use them will help to protect ensure the UK remains protected online now and in the future.

“The CyberFirst Girls competition is a great way of getting young women involved in a world they may not have known before taking part. Congratulations to all the girls who took part in this year’s competition and we look forward to seeing who claims the prize over the next two days.”

Demand for jobs within cyber security continues to rapidly increase and the NCSC is committed to nurturing knowledge through its world-leading CyberFirst programme. More than 25,000 young people have participated in a range of activities since the NCSC was created in 2016 and the research undertaken reinforces the continued efforts to engage with future generations who will play an important role.

The CyberFirst programme are looking at ways to extend the offer of to offer courses for those looking to return to work or retrain in profession

Digital and Creative Industries Minister Margot James said: 

“It’s great to see so many young women boosting their cyber skills, with record numbers taking part in the Cyber First Girls competition this year.

“Making sure we have a skilled and diverse cyber security workforce now and for the future is central to our national security and fundamental to maintaining our leading digital economy."

This weekend, the NCSC will crown the latest winners of the CyberFirst Girls competition in Edinburgh. The contest was created to encourage more young girls to consider cyber security as a career option and address the gender imbalances in the cyber security profession. A record 12,000 girls aged 12- and 13-years entered the competition this year.

The importance of increasing the number of school children participating in cyber security throughout their teenage years has been emphasised to ensure children are providing effective advice.

The teams will tackle a real world-based scenario applying their skills and techniques to understand what happened to a fictious company.

However, as GCHQ celebrates its 100th year the girls will also step back in time to gain some extra points along the way.

After close to 3,400 entrants, the top 10 teams competing in Edinburgh’s face-to-face final will be:

  • Watford Grammar School for Girls, Hertfordshire
  • Beverley High school, East Riding, Yorkshire 
  • Oxford High School GDST 
  • Denmark Road High School, Gloucester
  • Chelmsford County High School for Girls, Essex 
  • The Tiffin Girls’ School, London 
  • St Catherine’s College, Armagh 
  • Withington Girls’ School, Manchester 
  • Queen’s School, Chester 
  • Royal Masonic School for Girls, Hertfordshire

Further information regarding the CyberFirst Girls competition can be found at

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