The Australian Computing Academy (ACA) has announced the launch of a $1.35 million national program which will see cyber security taught to Year 7-10 students in an Australian first.
The Schools Cyber Security Challenges (Cyber Challenges) program will be taught in conjunction with the compulsory Digital Technologies Curriculum and aims to close the growing gap in cyber security awareness and skills among Australian students.
Delivered by the ACA, the program consists of four uniquely designed, interactive ‘Challenges’, the first of which was unveiled on 19 February. Challenge #1 introduces students to cyber security fundamentals and is now accessible to teachers and schools across Australia.
The program is also the first cross-industry coalition of its kind in Australia, with the ACA spearheading a unique collaborative effort with AustCyber (Australian Cyber Security Growth Network), ANZ, Commonwealth Bank (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Westpac and BT (British Telecom). These industry partners have brought real-life cyber security experience and expertise to the program and the Challenges have been developed and designed with the input of their security experts.
The partnership draws on the need for schools, government and Australia’s business sector to address the immediate skills shortage, while also fostering a longer term cyber security culture within Australia’s education system and future workforce.
According to AustCyber’s Cyber Security Sector Competitiveness Plan, Australia will need 18,000 more cyber security workers by 2026. The Cyber Challenges program aims to provide a step forward in trying to reduce this gap.
Students from St Andrews Cathedral School and other local schools that attended the official launch had the chance to experience the program first-hand, demonstrating how Challenge #1 enables students to think from an attacker’s perspective. This first Challenge involves students hacking and collecting personal information from the social media profiles of fictitious characters, including simulated banking, email, online shopping accounts and even parent posts.
Speaking at the launch, Associate Professor James Curran, Academic Director of the Australian Computing Academy, and one of the original authors of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, said, “There is a significant lack of awareness and skills around cyber security – 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 cyber security challenges both in their personal lives, and later in the workforce.
“Teachers and parents concerned about cyber security 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. Students will also be presented with a new perspective on pursuing a potential career in cyber security.”
CEO of AustCyber Michelle Price added, “It is critical for Australia’s economic prosperity that we build a highly skilled and educated cyber security workforce, as well as ensure 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 remaining three challenges are scheduled to be launched throughout 2019 and will focus on Data transmission and encryption, Wired and wireless network security, and Web application security. For more information, please click here.