Scottish teenagers get the lowdown on Cyber Crime this Christmas

Digital world


The next generation of Scottish tech stars will have the chance to learn about cyber security and hacking prevention this Christmas through a series of fun and informative lectures.

Over 2000 secondary school pupils from across Scotland are lined up to attend the annual Cyber Security Christmas Lectures hosted by five top universities. The organisers aim to inspire more young people to consider a career in cyber security and Scotland’s wider digital technologies sector.

Cyber security has never been more important and cyber-crime is costing UK firms an average of £4.1 million per incident, up from £3.07 million in 20131. And according to a recent PwC report2, 38% more security incidents were detected in 2015 than in the previous year, and theft of “hard” intellectual property increased 56%.

Businesses are investing in core safeguards to better defend their systems against evolving threats but the cyber security industry needs more skilled people to stay ahead of the criminals.

Speakers include experts from academia, industry, and Police Scotland, covering three areas that make up the National Progression Award in Cyber Security: digital forensics, ethical hacking, and data security. Lectures will discuss topics as diverse as the concept of social engineering and the psychology of cyber security.

Programme highlights include Matt Summers of NCC Group, a professional hacker who has worked on behalf of the UK government and private companies, looking at the ways students can break into cyber security; and Chris Jefferson, researcher in Artificial Intelligence and Algorithms at the University of St Andrews, who will show how the internet tries to keep your emails and social media messages safe and secret, and what happens when things go wrong.

Eliza May-Austin, a cyber security student who has experience at Scottish cyber security company Zonefox and hopes to work in counter terrorism, will also be taking the stage. Organisations need to understand how hacking is done to protect against it so Eliza will be leading demos and explaining common weaknesses in communications protocols.

Brian Higgins, International Man of Mystery, is lined up as closing speaker at each of the lectures and these sessions will be open to the general public, business people and parents with their children. Students and teachers who have attended the lectures in previous years will know Higgins for his high energy audience participation competitions but the topic of this year’s lecture is on a strictly need to know basis.

Martin Beaton, Cyber Security Network Integrator for Scottish Enterprise/PwC and one of the organisers of the series, explained that while the lectures are a fun way to end the Christmas term, they also have a serious message.

He said: “Scotland is taking a global lead in protecting and educating about cyber security but demand for skilled people is outstripping supply. The sector offers many exciting opportunities and there are plenty of well-paid and fulfilling jobs but we need to raise awareness of the routes in.

“It’s not always easy for young people and their parents to visualise what a career in the digital world will actually involve so these lectures play an important role in demystifying the industry as well as sparking ideas. They also offer the chance to experience a day in the life of a university student and meet other people with similar interests.”

Now in its fourth year, the Cyber Security Christmas Lectures series is supported by Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, SICSA, Skills Development Scotland, Young Scot and PwC. The lectures will kick off at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University on 11 December and travel to Inverness College, the University of Glasgow, and the University of Edinburgh. The final lectures will take place at Abertay University, Dundee on 17 December.

The Cyber Security Christmas Lectures series is just one of many exciting Scottish initiatives designed to inspire young people to explore the digital technologies.

A multi-channel marketing campaign entitled Digital World is currently underway, encouraging more people to consider a career in Scotland’s digital sector through a mix of television, digital and out-of-home advertising along with a dedicated website offering case studies and a wealth of careers information.

Those attending the lectures will find out how the campaign can help them learn more about the careers on offer.

Claire Gillespie, Key Sector Manager for ICT and Digital Technologies at Skills Development Scotland, added: “Cyber Security is one of the many growth areas in Scotland’s digital sector, and is something that affects us all, from businesses to consumers.

“These lectures are an ideal way to bring the topic to life for a wide audience, and I’m hopeful they could encourage more young people to consider it as a future career.”

A Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s ICT and Digital Technologies Sector was launched last year, backed by £6.6 million from the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. The plan identified the potential for 11,000 job opportunities in Scotland each year until 2020, often paying well above average.

For more information and a full list of speakers, visit

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