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Cyber Challenges to educate Australian high school students on cybersecurity

The University of Sydney’s Australian Computing Academy (ACA) has launched a A$ 1.35 million national program that will see cybersecurity taught to students in Years 7 – 10.

According to a recent report, the Schools Cyber Security Challenges was officially launched by the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

The Cyber Challenges program will be taught to high school students in conjunction with the compulsory Digital Technologies Curriculum.

This aims to close the growing gap in cybersecurity awareness and skills amongst Australian students.

What is the Cyber Challenges program?

The program consists of four interactive challenges, developed and designed with the input of the initiative’s partners.

Local schools that were present during the official launch had the opportunity to experience the program first-hand, demonstrating how the challenges enable students to think from the perspective of an attacker.

The first challenge introduces students to cybersecurity fundamentals, accessible by teachers and schools across the country.

For the first challenge, the students were involved in hacking and collecting personal information from the social media profiles of fictitious characters, including simulated banking, email, online shopping accounts and even parent posts.

Academic Director of the Australian Computing Academy Professor James Curran shared that there is a significant lack of awareness and skills around cybersecurity in society, in general, and amongst students.

The Schools Cyber Security Challenges addresses this gap by fostering security-conscious students who are well equipped to deal with cybersecurity challenges both in their personal lives and later, in the workforce.

Teachers and parents, who are concerned about cybersecurity, can now be confident that their students and children will be vigilant in all aspects of their digital lives by participating in the Schools Cyber Security Challenges.

Moreover, students will also be presented with a new perspective on pursuing a potential career in cybersecurity.

The CEO of the organisation, which is responsible for growing the Australian cyber security ecosystem, believes a commitment to cybersecurity education will increase Australia’s economic potential and will further drive innovation.

It is critical for the country’s economic prosperity that a highly skilled and educated cyber security workforce is built.

It is also important to guarantee that all students, parents, and teachers across the country have access to cyber security resources aligned to the Digital Technologies curriculum.

By focusing on Australian students, Cyber Challenges provides an important foundational step towards resolving skills shortages and supporting a sustained skills pipeline for generations to come.

The three remaining cybersecurity challenges are scheduled to launch over 2019.

These challenges will focus on data transmission and encryption, wired and wireless network security, and web application security.

A Culture of Cybersecurity

According to the company, Australia will need 18,000 more cybersecurity workers by 2026.

This immediate cybersecurity skills shortage will be addressed by fostering a longer-term cybersecurity culture within the country’s education system and future workforce.

The Cyber Challenges complement ACA’s existing work to deliver classroom activities and teacher professional development that support the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies.

The Cyber Challenges will include free interactive teaching resources, immediate intelligent feedback, automated marking and professional development for teachers.

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