UK launches Cadets CyberFirst programme to train cadets in cyber security

The Ministry of Defence, along with the National Cyber Security Centre, yesterday announced the Cadets CyberFirst programme to impart cyber security skills and expertise to over 2,000 cadets every year. The move is aimed a plugging the critical cyber skills gap in the UK.

In January last year, a study carried out by job site Indeed revealed that the UK was the second worst in the world in terms of cyber skills shortage with employer demand exceeding candidate interest by as many as three times. Despite efforts from the government and the industries, the skills gap, in fact, increased by a third between 2014 and 2016.

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To tackle the shortage of cyber security professionals in the country as well as to steadily reduce the worsening skills gap by 2021, the government announced an ambitious Cyber Schools Programme in July last year.

The new £20 million programme was set up with an objective of imparting the latest cyber security skills and techniques to students between the age of 14 and 18 years. Led by SANS, BT, FutureLearn and Cyber Security Challenge UK, the programme was aimed at teaching digital forensics, defending web attacks, programming and cryptography to students as well as teaching them the importance of cyber ethics and how to use their skills in a positive manner.

Cadets CyberFirst programme to make youth more cyber-savvy

In a fresh move, the government has launched a new Cadets CyberFirst programme in order to equip over 2,000 military cadets a year with cyber security skills and expertise to empower them to tackle emerging cyber threats in future. Aside from training cadets, the programme will also include a ‘train the trainer’ course which will teach more than 50 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers so they can deliver training programme to fresh cadets in the future.

"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," said Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

While Ministry of Defence cadet organisations and the GCHQ National Cyber Security Centre will deliver the Cadets CyberFirst programme to over 2,000 cadets every year, the government will also invest over £1 million every year in the programme and will also increase the number of cadets in school units from 43,000 to 60,000 by 2024, thereby allowing young people to learn more skills by joining cadet schools.

"With many cadets going on to join the armed forces, this scheme should help the MoD get a head start on equipping recruits with vital cybersecurity skills. It can also help get smart, would-be hackers on side, before they’re tempted to use their skills for less worthy means," says Michael Madon, SVP & GM security awareness at Mimecast.

"Simple cybersecurity training doesn’t do enough to prompt individuals to change their behaviour, which is exactly why so-called ‘inadvertent insiders’ are the leading cause of compromised records. If people truly understand the risks posed by using any connected device, they’re more likely to adapt their actions to minimise those risks.

"In the military, people take security seriously because they understand how they contribute to the wider picture. They care because their hearts and minds believe in what they’re doing. It’s exactly the mindset every organisation needs to replicate to keep ahead of cybercriminals," he adds.