Four girls from RMS for Girls in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire have beaten competition from all over the UK to be crowned winners of a GCHQ contest to address gender imbalances in cyber security. The winning team comprised of four Year 8 students (Alexa Wolff, Angelina Paz-King, Hattie Simpson, Laura Ferguson) saved the day of a fictitious company, coming out on top after 12,000 girls took part in head-scratching challenges of ‘CyberFirst Girls’, which is organised by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The RMS team, alongside finalists from nine other schools, enjoyed an exclusive dinner at Edinburgh Castle on the eve of the competition.
Throughout the final, the girls worked as security professionals to investigate an ongoing cyber incident. After analysing the potential breach, the winning team had to present their findings to a panel of experts from GCHQ and the NCSC before suggesting an effective resolution to save the day.
RMS for Girls Headmaster Kevin Carson said: “These are four fantastic RMS students, each with razor-sharp minds, and we are incredibly proud of the resourcefulness and determination that they have demonstrated to win a national event as challenging and prestigious as the NCSC CyberFirst Girls competition. 90% of the cyber security profession are male, which means the industry (like so many others) is missing out on a huge pool of talent. To encourage 12,000 young women to participate in this challenge is a fabulous thing in itself, and for our RMS girls to have emerged victorious is a tremendous credit to Alexa, Angelina, Hattie and Laura. I could not be more proud of the girls or of their amazing teachers at our school.”
The Duke of York has shown his continued support for the competition as, for the second year in succession, he will host all the finalists for a celebration of their achievements. Each of the top 10 teams will be travelling to Windsor Castle for tea with His Royal Highness in May, 2019.
Chris Ensor, NCSC Deputy Director for Skills and Growth, said: “Congratulations to all our finalists and in particular The Royal Masonic School for Girls who performed impressively throughout the final. The increase in participants is fantastic to see and there was a real spread from across the country. Young people are playing an increasingly vital role in sharing knowledge about protecting ourselves online and the more who are engaged the better position we will all be in.”
Over the past three years, over 24,000 girls in schools across the UK have participated in the NCSC’s CyberFirst Girls competition of problem-solving and code cracking challenges to crown the UK’s most cyber-capable young women.
Digital and Creative Industries Minister Margot James said: "The talent of the all the young women competing in the Cyber First Girls finals this week has been impressive and I hope the competition will have inspired many of them to consider future careers in the UK's growing cyber sector.
"The competition is not only improving our capability in cyber, which is vital for our booming digital economy, but also boosting the skills of young people and creating a more diverse workforce. Our winners today have proven they have the talent to be the cyber experts of tomorrow."
Further information regarding the CyberFirst Girls competition can be found here: https://www.cyberfirst.ncsc.gov.uk/