Australian high school students will be taught cyber security skills “for the first time” as part of a $1.35 million initiative backed by the Big Four banks, AustCyber and BT.
The ‘Cyber Challenges’ program, which launched today at St Andrews Cathedral School in Sydney, is an optional element of the compulsory digital technologies curriculum, and encourages school kids to “think like a hacker”.
There are four challenges – developed by the Australian Computing Academy (ACA) at the University of Sydney – which cover online personal safety, cryptography, networking and SQL injections.
“There is a significant lack of awareness and skills around cyber security – in society in general, and amongst students,” said James Curran, academic director of the ACA and one of the original authors of the digital technologies curriculum.
“The challenges address this gap by fostering security-conscious students who are well equipped to deal with cyber security challenges both in their personal lives, and later, in the workforce,” he added.
The challenges program features free, interactive teaching resources, immediate feedback via the Grok Learning platform, automated marking and professional development for teachers. The first challenge involves students hacking and collecting personal information from the social media profiles of fictitious characters, as well as simulated banking, email, online shopping accounts and parent posts.
The program has been backed by AustCyber (Australian Cyber Security Growth Network), ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Westpac and BT (British Telecom).
“Australia is facing a skills shortage in cyber security and we must inspire more young Australians to join the cyber workforce. To do this, we need to equip them with the foundational STEM skills and cyber literacy they need to embark on pathways that lead to careers in cyber security and technology,” said CBA chief digital officer and acting chief information security officer, Pete Steel at a launch event today.
“The Cyber Challenges give secondary students the opportunity to experience the interesting and challenging field of cyber security at a time when we know they are starting to consider their chosen career paths,” added NAB chief enterprise security officer, David Fairman.
“This partnership will help the cyber security industry to attract young people to what is a rewarding and growing field, where they can have a real impact on people’s lives,” Fairman said.
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