Pupils at Beaufort Co-operative Academy in Gloucester are some of the first to benefit from a trailblazing Cyber Security initiative, which has been launched in partnership with the UK Government's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
The bespoke facility, named the Cyber Hub, is one of the first to be launched in the UK as part of a project to encourage school children to choose careers in cyber security and computer science. Cyber security is a rapidly growing worldwide threat, and the need for skilled people to take up careers in the security and technology industries has become a priority.
The National Cyber Security Centre is the UK's authority on cyber security; by partnering with schools and higher-education providers, the NCSC aims to create inspirational learning environments that will engage the next generation of students to study cyber subjects from GCSE to degree level.
What is the Cyber Hub?
Beaufort Co-operative Academy in Gloucester has partnered with the NCSC and is one of first schools to benefit from the installation of a state-of-the-art Cyber Hub. The Hub is a dedicated classroom within the school that is equipped with the latest technology including smart computer workstations, 3D Printers, an in-house CCTV system and virtual reality software. The Hub has been uniquely designed to provide an inspirational learning environment for students interested in cyber subjects.
As well as educating Beaufort's pupils on cyber security, the Hub will be open for after-school clubs and to other primary and secondary schools as part of an ongoing effort to spark the imagination of local children.
Beaufort students at work in the new Cyber Hub
Cyber Hub officially unveiled on Friday 12th October 2018
The ribbon was cut on the new Beaufort Cyber Hub as part of a launch event at the school on Friday 12th October 2018.
Attended by high-level representatives from the NCSC, industry partners and the local media, the event opened with a welcome from Beaufort Principal, David Bishop, followed by speeches from Head of Computer Science at Beaufort School, Sophia Elliott and NCSC Deputy Director for Skills and Growth, Chris Ensor.
Following the speeches, guests were given the opportunity to explore the new facility and engage with students and industry partners who will be involved in the project going forward.
During the event, Chris Ensor said:
“Launching this innovation facility is an exciting step to support local schools. The site at Beaufort Co-operative is forward-thinking, housing some of the latest technology and a one of its kind environment for students to experience. The facility is designed to encourage a new approach to teaching and learning in alternative environments to develop the next generation of tech-savvy, cyber professionals.”
Beaufort Principal, David Bishop welcomes attendees ahead of the Cyber Hub unveiling
Students to get hands-on with CCTV thanks to Allcooper
Allcooper is one of a few local businesses that were approached by the NCSC to become involved with the Cyber Hub project. Specifically, Allcooper were asked to provide standalone security systems that students could experiment with, as well as providing security for the room itself.
Under the guidance of Engineering Manager, Lucan Clift, Allcooper installed a four-camera IP CCTV system to provide full surveillance of the room and allow students to gain experience of managing electronic security equipment.
The room was also secured with an Access Control system to ensure only authorised staff are able to access the facilities.
Allcooper have proudly been working with Beaufort Co-operative Academy in relation to physical security for a number of years.
Lucan Clift, Engineering Manager at Allcooper, demonstrates the CCTV system installed in the Hub.
Commenting on Allcooper's support of the Cyber Hub, Roman Cooper, Executive Director of Allcooper, explained...
"In today's world, staying protected from both physical and cyber security threats is becoming increasingly difficult. Whilst online criminals spend time trying to find vulnerabilities in your IT defence systems, there remains a huge risk of someone simply walking through your front door and plugging a USB stick into your laptop. We're seeing the connection between cyber and physical security growing ever-closer, and it's vital that businesses and individuals take a serious approach to both. The Cyber Hub project is a really positive step towards getting more young people trained in how to defend themselves and their employers from all kinds of future security risks."
Roman Cooper discusses the project with David Bishop
Commenting on Allcooper's contribution to the Cyber Hub, Beaufort Principal, David Bishop, said:
“We are very fortunate at Beaufort Co-operative Academy to be part of such a ground-breaking project. This kind of investment will ensure that students can develop the skills and knowledge they will need to be the workforce of the future and add value to the local area and local businesses. We have a long association with Allcooper and it is a pleasure to have them on board. I hope we can continue to produce their highly skilled workforce of the future."
Comment: What do today's students know about Cyber Security?
At the time of writing this article, the Allcooper Marketing Team were pleased to be hosting Savannah - a work experience student from SGS College, Berkeley Green UTC.
As a student at the recently opened technology college, we thought we'd ask Savannah what she thinks about cyber security.
Read her amazing response below:
"The importance of Cyber Security among young people is a forever concerning issue, and it doesn’t happen in the stereotypical way we think it does; a hacker with a black hoodie and gloves behind a screen. It’s all well and good being physically protected as a business, but sometimes we don’t appreciate the importance of digital protection - and the two tend to go hand in hand.
There are many different ways in which a Cyber Attack can arise and the most common is over email; phishing emails can be asking for your bank details to renew a subscription you don’t even have; or they can load a malicious virus onto your computer without you being aware - this is called a Trojan - and it disguises the true intent that the software has. These viruses will most likely collect the sensitive information and details you have and automatically send them to the person behind the attack.
Hacking and Cyber Attacks can be a problem within workplaces too; USBs left lying around can be a physical way of hacking. This will often provoke one’s curiosity to find out what’s on it - and it will be a way of getting into a user area of a different branch of the company. Even simple things that we don’t realise we do - like writing down our username and password on a note and sticking it on the monitor - these things all make hacking within a working environment very easy."
Savannah's response shows just how much progress has already been made in raising awareness of cyber security. A few years ago, this response would not be expected. Well done, Savannah!
For more information about the Cyber Hub, please visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/news/gloucester-children-benefit-groundbreaking-cyber-hub