Year Nine girls battle it out in cybersecurity competition

Published: February 10, 2022

Girls aged 12-13 have battled it out in the Northern Ireland final of the UK CyberFirst Girls Competition, the UK's flagship cybersecurity competition for schools.

Now in its sixth year, the CyberFirst Girls Competition, supported by Allstate NI, introduces students to cybersecurity and helps them understand what a career in the field might look like.

Girls from St. Catherine's College, Armagh wins the grand prize.

Established by the National Cyber Security Centre, which is a part of GCHQ, ten teams of Year Nine girls from schools across the region took part in the Northern Ireland final at the Titanic Hotel, Belfast on Saturday.

After a challenging online qualifying round, the 10 top scoring teams competed in a series of puzzles covering topics from cryptography to AI to logic. Regardless of their ability, the competition was an opportunity to learn why cybersecurity matters, where it could take them in future, and that they already possess many of the attributes needed for a successful career in the field.

Several individual and team prizes were awarded. A grand prize giving and celebration day for all finalists, including the overall winners St. Catherine's College, Armagh, will be held later in the year.

Speaking about the event, Keith Lippert, Vice President and Deputy Chief Information Security Officer at Allstate NI, said:
"The CyberFirst Girls Competition is a fantastic initiative that fits with our commitments at Allstate NI to address gender diversity and inspire the incoming generation of cyber technologists. We are in an incredibly exciting time for the cybersecurity industry in Northern Ireland, and it is vital that we encourage more females to enter the sector and launch their careers at the cutting edge of this industry."
Catherine McHugh, Principal of St. Patrick's College Dungannon, an Allstate NI Silver CyberFirst school, also commented:
"Initiatives like the CyberFirst Girls Competition are important not only in today's recruitment climate, but in the face of growing cyber threats and the heightened exposure of our young people online."