Francis Maude: inspiring students to keep safe online

Horsham MP Francis Maude

Horsham MP Francis Maude

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This week I thought I’d bring readers up to speed with a couple of initiatives recently announced by my department – the Cabinet Office. They’re very different and reflect rather well the various aspects of Government which come under my remit as Minister for the Cabinet Office.

Last week, LocalGiving.com launched its new ‘Grow your Tenner’ campaign. If you haven’t heard of it before, LocalGiving.com is the UK’s primary fundraising website for small, local charities and community groups and the campaign is, in a nutshell, one of match funding.

They’ll turn £500,000 from the Cabinet Office into over £1.2m for grass roots charities across England – small charities that often make a big difference within local communities.

Eligible charities will see donations of up to £10 doubled (increasing to £22.50 with Gift Aid) and monthly donations doubled up to £10 a month for six months.

It’s a great way of giving to local causes as the money goes directly to your charity or community group of choice. Why not take a moment to look at localgiving.com/gyt and consider donating?

I’d also urge local charities and community groups to sign up – it’s easy and the only way to be in with a chance of a share of the pot!

And now for something completely different: as Minister with responsibility for Cyber Security, I recently announced a new initiative for schools, being supported by our National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP).

The Cyber Security Challenge is an opportunity to increase students’ awareness of cyber security and to inspire them to keep the UK safe online.

Ensuring that we have the right skilled people to protect UK interests from ever-increasing cyber threats is one of the foremost priorities for our cyber security strategy and to support this, the cyber Security Challenge has since 2010 run a nationwide cyber security skills competition, backed by the Government, industry and academia.

The initiative runs cyber security ‘Battles’ which pit participants against each other to find the brightest and the most talented in the field.

Over 10,000 people have registered to date and the new competition is aimed at secondary school pupils in year 9 (aged 13) and upwards. Students will learn to break coded messages specially designed by industry experts and challenge other schools as part of a national virtual tournament. The best will take part in a face-to-face grand finale against other schools next spring. A lesson plan for all registered schools will equip students with the skills to participate and all the materials are free. More information on the Challenge is available at cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk but don’t hang about as competition registration closes on 15 November.