Cyber Security Academy

July 1, 2021
Students programming

Empowering the Younger Generation against Cyber Crime

In June 2021, Cyber Skills and Cyber Ireland collaborated, to bring 97 secondary school students from across Ireland together to participate in an online Cyber Security Academy. The academy, which ran over 4 days, was a mixture of theory, practice, challenges, and prizes that gave the 16-18 year old’s an opportunity to demonstrate their new skills in a fun way.

As part of the academy students learnt Linux, networking, security, cryptography, and ethical hacking skills.  

The academy also featured high profile guest speakers from the Garda National Crime Bureau, Security Professionals, and Industry sponsors such as Huawei. 

In preparation for the academy, each student was sent out a ‘cyber pack’ including a Hack5 Rubber Ducky USB device, providing the learners with real world ethical hacking skills as part of the program of activities. On the final day of the academy, learners participated in a Capture-the-Flag (CTF) event organised by Zero Days, to further encourage young people to pursue a career in cyber-security. The students divided into teams, displaying the skills they learnt as part of the academy and highlighting how a real world hack can be prevented by what they now know. The prizes for the CTF were sponsored by CMS Distribution, comprising of 4 escooters, 4 microphones and 4 Lenovo earbuds. 

Cyber security has been at the forefront of many people’s minds given the recent and high-profile attack on the HSE. Recent research carried out by Cyber Ireland has also shown that there is a skills shortage in the cyber security sector, with many organisations struggling to fill roles. There is a need to attract students to the industry as they consider their career choices.  Emer O'Neill Director Security Response Center, VMware said that “Living in aninterconnected world it is critically important that we build skills to tackle cybercrime and strengthen the security of our digital lives”. The Cyber Security Academy is a collaborative project funded by SFI Discover programme and jointly led by Ireland’s National Cyber Security Cluster, Cyber Ireland, and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) funded initiative, Cyber Skills. Industry sponsors, CMS Distribution, Fidelity Investments, Qualcomm, VMWare, Zurich, and Huawei also supported the academy. 

We're already preparing for next year's Cyber Academy as the Science Foundation Ireland Programme Call deadline is the 1st of July for 2022 projects. We plan to build on this year’s programme (and the learnings) to expand it to other regions, partners and target groups (girls, neuro-diverse people and disadvantaged schools). We'll be in touch next week with further information and an ask for a letter of support if you are interested in contributing to the Cyber Academy in 2022.