teenagers cyber security

‘Cyber cadet force’ set up to train teenagers to man the UK’s online defences

A ‘cyber cadet force’ is being set up in the UK by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in order to protect against online threats.

MoD minister Gavin Williamson said the initiative will see over 2,000 cadets a year being given the opportunity to learn how to protect systems connected to the internet from cyber-attacks.

Over £1m will be invested in the programme each year and cadets will be able to choose from introductory courses covering the tools, knowledge and skills to protect small networks, to more advanced courses where they will be fully immersed in cyber-security issues.

Williamson made the announcement at the Tory party conference and said the initiative will help to “protect our nation against sophisticated and evolving threats”.

He also announced that he would be protecting HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion being withdrawn from service early. There had been speculation that the two ships were facing the scrapyard, as the MoD looked to make savings.

Williamson, announcing the cyber cadets, said: “We live in a modern world where our phones are rarely out of our hands and we rely on computers to make daily tasks easier.

“Cyber threats to the UK are constantly evolving and this exciting initiative to train and develop ‘cyber cadets’ - the first of its kind in a Nato state - reaffirms our leading role in tackling security threats head on.

“It is important to recognise the vital role cadets play in our communities and I am determined to grow the number of young people signing up and make sure their successes are properly recognised each year.”

He added: “This programme has been designed with GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre. 2,000 cadets a year will be trained in cyber security. Teaching young people skills they need to succeed in today’s world. This investment in cadets is an investment in the future of our young people.”

Williamson also announced that the UK would be maintaining a military presence in Germany.

Around 185 British Army personnel and 60 MoD civilians will remain in Germany, once the withdrawal of British Army units to the UK has been completed.

He said: “We are increasing our British points of presence across the world. We will not close our facilities in Germany and are will instead we keep them open and forward base the Army there.”

In July, Williamson commissioned a review into the contribution that the defence sector plays in the UK economy in order to push for more military funding. 

In October 2017,  cyber-security training specialists Immersive Labs launched the Digital Cyber Academy (DCA), a gamified cyber-skills platform open to all university-affiliated students, regardless of degree discipline, in order to help close the acknowledged cyber-skills gap through real-world training.

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