New online program seeks to interest girls in cybersecruity
Pennsylvania is among 27 states participating in a new effort to bridge the gender gap in cyber security.
The free online program, Girls Go CyberStart, seeks to engage girls in grades 9-12 in the world of cybersecurity, where women make up 20 percent of the workforce in a growing industry, according to figures from Cybersecurity Ventures. The Long Island, N.Y.-based company predicts there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2021.
A spokesman for the SANS Institute said the interactive program consists of three stages, with each stage featuring a series of digital challenges designed to teach players important concepts in the field of cybersecurity.
Upon registration players 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 easily set up by a school teacher, 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.
“This is an exciting time to launch the program, cybersecurity is becoming ever more important in this country and by educating young people, we can ensure the industry has a stream of diverse new talent,” said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute.
Students, teachers, or administrators associated with a school or organization, can register for the program at www.girlsgocyberstart.org/interest.
Editor’s note: This story was amended on April 1, 2019, to update figures provided by Cybersecurity Ventures.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .