Officially launched by the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Cyber Challenges program will be taught in conjunction with the compulsory Digital Technologies Curriculum, which aims to close the growing gap in cybersecurity awareness and skills amongst Australian students.
The Schools Cyber Security Challenges is a result of a collaborative effort between the Australian Computing Academy, AustCyber (the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network), ANZ, Commonwealth Bank (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Westpac and BT (British Telecom), who have brought real-life cybersecurity experience and expertise to the program.
What is the Cyber Challenges program?
The program will be delivered by the ACA and consists of four interactive challenges, developed and designed with the input of the initiative's partners. The first challenge introduces students to cybersecurity fundamentals, accessible by teachers and schools across the country.
Students from St Andrews Cathedral School and other local schools attending the official launch had the chance to experience the program first-hand, demonstrating how the challenges enable students to think from the perspective of an attacker. The 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.
Academic Director of the Australian Computing Academy, Professor James Curran believes more can be done to address cybersecurity concerns and equip students with the information and skills to protect themselves online.
“There is a significant lack of awareness and skills around cybersecurity in society in general, and amongst students," he explained. "The Schools Cyber Security Challenges addresses this gap by fostering security-conscious students who are well equipped to deal with cybersecurity challenges both in their personal lives and later, in the workforce."
“Teachers and parents concerned about cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity,” Professor Curran concluded.
AustCyber CEO, Michelle Price believes a commitment to cybersecurity education will increase Australia's economic potential and will further drive innovation.
“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," she said.
"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," she concluded.
The three remaining cybersecurity challenges are scheduled to launch over 2019 and will focus on data transmission and encryption, wired and wireless network security, and web application security.
According to AustCyber, Australia will need 18,000 more cybersecurity workers by 2026. To address the immediate cybersecurity skills shortage, the partnership emphasises the critical need for schools, government and Australia’s business sector to foster a longer-term cybersecurity culture within Australia’s education system and future workforce.
The Cyber Challenges complement ACA’s existing work to deliver classroom activities and teacher professional development that support the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. The Cyber Challenges will include free interactive teaching resources, immediate intelligent feedback, automated marking and professional development for teachers.
In August 2018, the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network announced that the University of Sydney would receive a total of $1.35 million of funding through an initial joint contribution from ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac and BT, which was then matched by AustCyber. The Cyber Challenges program will be taught in conjunction with the $10 million Federal Department of Education and Training project being carried out by the ACA in collaboration with Australian EdTech startup, Grok Learning.