Scottish secondary school pupils will be encouraged to become the first line of defence against cybercrime at a series of events this week.
Martin Beaton, Cyber Security Network Integrator for Scotland, says: “Surprisingly, digital native millennials have been shown to be among the groups most vulnerable to online crime and loss of personal information.
“Our Christmas Lectures bring cyber security to life in a fun setting, helping pupils to understand the risks they face as well as the opportunities available if they choose a career in the sector.
“Scotland is a global leader in protecting and educating businesses and the wider population about cyber security, but we need to make sure that we have a pipeline of new talent to ensure we can thrive online in years to come.”
Around 13.8 million people – almost one quarter of the population – were affected by cyber crime in the UK last year, an annual increase of 10%.
The risks for businesses are signiuficant; data loss can have an immediate effect on reputation, result in legal action, influence competitive position and shareholder value. The average cost to large UK firms is £4.1m per incident.
The cyber threat affects SMEs as well as large organisations so demand for skilled experts is growing across the whole economy and it is more important than ever that Scotland fosters a workforce of cyber security professionals for the future.
The annual Cyber Security Christmas Lectures series aims to address this need by making young people aware of career opportunities in the industry and the realities of cyber crime. The tour will visit Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow this week.
In their fifth year, the lectures are bigger than ever, with over 2700 pupils around the country set to attend the events hosted by five universities. The series will also welcome its first international guest, Amalie Wedege, a security risk management expert from Danish firm Zero Alpha.
Amalie will be joined on the tour by experts including Police Scotland’s Eamonn Keane, NCC Group’s Rory McCune, and Andrew Cumming of Edinburgh Napier University, who will deliver the lecture, “Keeping Secrets with Pure Mathematics”.
Brian Higgins, of (ICS)2, an international non-profit association focused on inspiring a safe and secure cyber world, will close proceedings in his own inimitable style with a fast paced, interactive competition.
The events are supported by Digital World, an initiative developed by Skills Development Scotland in partnership with industry, which inspires and supports people to go into digital technology careers.
Claire Gillespie, key sector manager for ICT and Digital Skills at SDS, said: “The digital technologies sector offers plenty of well-paid and interesting job opportunities and cyber security is one of the fastest growing specialisms. More than 10,000 school pupils have taken part in the lectures since 2011 and it’s fantastic to see the tour going from strength to strength.”
Maggie Morrison, Vice President Public Sector at CGI in Scotland, a sponsor of the event, said: “One of our core aims in Scotland is to ensure that we have a digitally skilled nation in place, which can drive, deliver and protect businesses as we continue to embrace the online universe. Opportunities like this, which allow us to educate and engage with pupils at a point where they are making career choices and planning their futures, are therefore incredibly valuable.”
The lectures are part of a wider cyber security awareness programme, which includes the Scottish Cyber Awards, cyber security competitions (both virtual and face-to-face), the GCHQ women in cyber security day and secondary school residential cyber camps being held throughout the summer months.
This year’s supporters include SICSA, PwC, CGI, Education Scotland, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Scottish Government, SQA, Scottish Enterprise, Police Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, the Digital World campaign, and a multitude of industry representatives that will provide the inspiring mix of talks.