Gov. John Carney and Delaware’s Chief Information Officer James Collins recently announced an innovative cybersecurity training partnership between the SANS Institute and the state of Delaware that provides young women in high school interested in a cybersecurity career the opportunity to discover their aptitude and learn basic cybersecurity skills through a no-cost online game of discovery called “Girls Go CyberStart.”

In summer 2017, Delaware was one of seven states to partner with the SANS Institute to pilot CyberStart, a program designed to inspire the next generation of cybersecurity professionals while identifying talented youth. The program enabled 3,300 students in seven states to discover and demonstrate their aptitude for cybersecurity. However, 5 percent of the students who participated in CyberStart’s first round were young women. In Delaware, 359 students enrolled in the practice round.

Delaware partnered with the SANS Institute on this initiative to give young women in Delaware high schools an opportunity to explore a career in cybersecurity. The Delaware Department of Technology and Information is partnering with the Department of Education and a variety of organizations, including the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, to support and encourage young women in high school to register to participate.

Registration will begin Jan. 29 and will end Feb. 16. The first 10,000 young women in high school who have registered by the deadline can play the game Feb. 20-25. More details about the program can be found atgirlsgocyberstart.com.

Participating students do not need prior cybersecurity knowledge or programming experience. All that is required is a computer and an internet connection. Participants who excel in the Girls Go CyberStart game will have the opportunity to win computers and other prizes, as well as a trip, with a parent, to the 2018 Women in CyberSecurity Conference.

Each player starts as a cyber protection agent responsible for protecting an important operational base. The student chooses and solves challenges, earning points along the way. A cyber protection agent field manual provides answers to questions that may arise, and hints are available to help when players get stuck. When the player has solved a sufficient number of challenges at one level, a new level opens up and new challenges appear, for a total of 10 levels.