Anwen, 17, from Argyll & Bute attended the CyberFirst Advanced Course in July 2020, the first year they went virtual:
I was interested in cyber security and thought this would be a good way of learning more, developing new skills and finding out if it’s something I would like to pursue further. My high school is very small (only two hundred pupils) and computer science is not offered as a subject, so I've had to find out these opportunities myself.
DEVELOPED SKILLS – BINARY, OSINT AND ENCRYPTION
I learnt binary, developed skills in Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), and was taught the basics of encryption. We looked at forensic stuff, so how information is hidden within pictures, which lots of people might not realise is something we can do. It’s a way of hiding data within another piece of data, which is called steganography – so if you opened someone’s computer, their files would look normal but in reality they are hiding information within those files.
“It helped me to take the plunge and apply to study computer science at uni.”
AN ONLINE COURSE MEANT IT WAS ACCESSIBLE TO ME
The fact this course was held online made it accessible to me in a remote rural location. I live on a small island and the additional travel and accommodation costs usually mean that residential summer courses are not an option.
As we’d already had online school lessons everyone was quite used to it, although quite shy for the majority of it, just typing answers into the chat boxes. But by the end of the first week lots more people were using their mics and came out of their shells.
HELPED ME TAKE PLUNGE
It made me think more widely about the range of cybersecurity jobs available. I definitely want to stay within cyber security after doing the courses and learning about all of the different aspects like ethical hacking, which is where people are given permission to hack into systems to test their strength.
Attending the course helped me to take the plunge and apply to study computer science at uni. I’ve had university offers through already.
JUST GO FOR IT
I would say to anyone thinking about doing a CyberFirst course to just go for it – I knew very little about computer systems or the technical side of things but was taught all these amazing new things. It was interesting, enjoyable and fun!
CyberFirst introduces young people with a passion for computing and technology to the fascinating world of cyber security. It is a programme of opportunities inspired and led by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of GCHQ. Join a course to start your CyberFirst journey.
YEAR 10 (ENGLAND AND WALES), YEAR 11 (NORTHERN IRELAND) OR S4 (SCOTLAND)
YEAR 11 (ENGLAND AND WALES), YEAR 12 (NORTHERN IRELAND) OR S5 (SCOTLAND)
YEAR 12 (ENGLAND AND WALES), YEAR 13 (NORTHERN IRELAND) OR S6 (SCOTLAND)