Hitchin schoolboy reaches Elite stage in cyber security training programme

Jake Davis from Hitchin's Priory School, who progressed to the final stage of government cyber secur

Jake Davis from Hitchin's Priory School, who progressed to the final stage of government cyber security training programme Cyber Discovery. Picture: The Priory School - Credit: Archant

A 16-year-old Hitchin schoolboy spent his summer holidays progressing to the elite stage of the government’s flagship cyber security training programme.

Jake Davis, who is in Year 11 at The Priory School, ranked in the top 200 out of 23,000 initial participants in Cyber Discovery.

And last month he took part in CyberStart Elite, a weekend camp in London featuring hands-on challenges, demonstrations and presentations from industry experts.

“On the first day after the introduction, we had three talks about cybersecurity and then took part in one of the games called Hack-a-Bot,” said Jake, who lives in Hitchin.

“In the evening we participated in the ENIGMA Academy Challenge. The next day, after two more talks, the main event was held, –the Capture the Flag, where each team obtained points after finding vulnerabilities. My team came 4th out of 12 other teams.

“It was really interesting learning about cyber security and the potential careers which I could go into, and it taught me ways to test the security of my own apps in order to make them secure.

“I also found more about CyberFirst, who also provide longer residential courses and bursaries.”

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SANS Institute research and development head James Lyne, one of the creators of Cyber Discovery, said many participants had not even realised they had an aptitude for cyber security.

The aim of the Elite weekend, he said, was to show students what it was really like to work in the field.

He said: “With the current scale of the cyber security skills gap, the more we can prepare and inspire the next generation of cyber security warriors, the better chance we have of creating a safer and better place for people to be online, do business, and go about their daily lives in the UK.”

Digital and creative industries minister Margot James congratulated all the students who made it to the Elite phase, calling it a “tremendous achievement”.

The aim of Cyber Discovery is to identify those with a talent for cyber security at a younger age, and give youngsters between Year 10 and Year 13 the chance to learn skills necessary to enter the cyber security workforce.

The government is investing £1.9 billion into cyber security over the period 2016 to 2021. In March, the Ministry of Defence opened a dedicated Defence Cyber School at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham, Wiltshire.

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