The Cybersecurity Escape Room: A Gamified Introduction to Cybersecurity Concepts

01 Nov, 2023

Min read

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The Cyber Security Sector Report 2022 identified that the Cyber Security Sector in Ireland has the potential to grow by 10,000 people by 2030, from a base of just over 7,000 people in 2022. Working with Cyber Ireland members we aim to meet this challenge by co-ordinating Industry Engagement with schools to inspire the next generation. A joint multi-agency report including the OECD, the EU & UNESCO has outlined how effective Industry Engagement can enrich career guidance in schools, broaden career aspirations and challenge gendered assumptions and stereotypes.

In 2023, the Cyber Skills team developed a Cybersecurity Escape Room as part of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Cyber Skills Careers project. This is based on a tabletop exercise, where Industry leaders do a walk-through of a cyber-attack for their company to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. This discussion-based exercise can highlight for companies how prepared they are if an attack does occur and helps different departments understand their priorities. A key aim is to convey that cybersecurity affects everyone in a company, and not just the IT and leadership teams. The Escape Room follows a similar thought process, and it is gamified to introduce cybersecurity concepts through a fun challenge that can be completed in a classroom, and under time pressure.

The Escape Room has six company departments; IT, Legal, Finance, Operations, PR/Marketing, and Operations. Each team must solve a series of puzzles and clues to open lock boxes and complete the game. The challenges are based on common tasks and features of cyber attacks. It is designed to be adapted and delivered by Industry. So far it has been delivered by two Security Organisations in schools and by the team at outreach events. In addition to delivering the activity, the company then also discusses cyber security training with schools and opportunities for students at Junior and Senior Cycle. They also share back their experience of delivering the Escape Room so that we can iterate the design and improve it over time. The Escape Room was launched at the MTU iWISH/Engineering your Future Campus Week earlier this year and has been well received as an introduction to Cyber Security ever since. Our next steps are to continue building our engagement with Industry and Schools so that all secondary school students are introduced to the career opportunities that Cyber Security can provide.

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