A new app that enables students and teachers to create their own encoded messages was launched to popularise encryption techniques, GCHQ announced.
Cryptoy, the educational application designed by the intelligence and security organisation, is intended for secondary school students and teachers who can share their own cryptographic messages with the purpose of being deciphered by the recipient.
Although the application is largely aimed at Key Stage 4 students, it can be used by anyone interested in code-making since it also provides an overview of the field. Initially designed by students on placement at GCHQ as part of a project, the app grew popular with teachers who wanted to use it as a teaching aid.
"The Cryptoy app is a colourful, interactive way for students and their teachers to explore the fascinating world of cryptography. I hope it will inspire further study of this key topic, which has played such an important part in our past and is an invaluable part of our future," said Robert Hannigan, director at GCHQ.
With the proliferation of hack attacks and online privacy and security threats, there is a general consensus among security specialists about having to develop a knowledge base of cybersecurity skills in Britain.
"Building maths and cyber skills in the younger generation is essential for maintaining the cyber security of the UK and growing a vibrant digital economy,” Hannigan added.
Speaking about the app at the anniversary of the UK Cyber Security Strategy, Cabinet Minister Francis Maude said: “Famously, the government recruited winners of a Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword competition to work at Bletchley Park. Today, I’m pleased to announce a similarly creative solution in the hunt for expertise, but with a 21st century spin.”
The government published its national cyber security strategy in 2011, aiming to shape an open and secure cyberspace. Presenting the report on progress and forward plans in December, Maude said that significant strides were made towards all the goals this year and throughout the course of the Programme’s existence.
The Cryptoy app is currently available to download for free on Android tablets only, but an iOS version for iPads should be available in 2015.