The National Crime Agency has partnered with Cyber Security Challenge UK to give students free access to their online platform ‘CyberLand’ over the coming months.
CyberLand is a virtual city which provides gamified modules teaching 12-18 year-olds the fundamentals of cyber security, such as firewall configuration and digital forensics.
The 16 interactive exercises, which are designed around the concept of protecting CyberLand from a cyber-attack, are now free to access until the end of September 2020 [NB subsequently extended until at least March 2024]
Jim Stokley, Deputy Director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said:
“Many young people have a keen interest in technology and have developed impressive cyber skills.
“Part of our work in the National Cyber Crime Unit is to educate them on the laws governing cyber space and prevent them from committing crimes while online.
“We’ve partnered with Cyber Security Challenge UK to offer free access to their online platform Cyberland where young people will find games that encourage them to improve cyber skills safely and legally.
The age of individuals arrested by the NCA for cyber crime offences is often much younger than other crime types, with children as young as twelve having been known to engage in such offences. Analysis shows that teens with an interest in technology can drift into cyber criminality without having full knowledge of the law.
Therefore, a key aim of this initiative is to offer young people the opportunity to develop cyber skills safely, mitigating the risk of them inadvertently committing cyber crime offences whilst online.
“With schools and colleges closed across the country, teenagers have found themselves with more time on their hands and are likely spending more time online.
“It’s important to have conversations with young people about their interest in, and use of, technology and I would encourage parents and guardians to make use of this resource as part of homeschooling.
“Further help and advice for parents, guardians and young people can be found at www.cyberchoices.uk.”
Dr Robert Nowill, Chairman, Cyber Security Challenge UK said:
“As we collectively adjust to a new routine at home, we are delighted to continue to be able to support emerging cyber talent from all walks of life with the national launch of CyberLand.
“Now is the time for teens keen to develop their technical skill set, as well as those who have perhaps never considered pursuing STEAM and other subjects in their further education, to get a taste for an industry where there is huge demand and opportunity for young, fresh, diverse talent.
“Following a successful national series of Intervention Days in recent years, the impact of our partnership with the National Crime Agency is proven once again with the Cyber Choices programme.”
As well as a module on the Computer Misuse Act 1990, CyberLand signposts young people to development pathways and career options for those with digital skills.
It comes as young people are also given the chance to join Cyber Discovery’s virtual cyber school, which provides free weekly webinars run by industry experts teaching fundamental security disciplines such as cryptography and operating systems.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has also launched its CyberFirst summer courses online for the first time.