Teenage girls who spend a lot of time online and on social media could become the UK’s spies of the future, Britain’s intelligence agency hopes.
GCHQ is launching a competition with the aim of encouraging more girls to think about a career in cyber security.
Girls aged 13 to 15 will compete in tests that will also cover logic and coding, networking and cryptography.
Women currently only make up 10% of the global cyber workforce, the agency says.
The competition is part of a five-year National Cyber Security Strategy announced in November 2016, and will be overseen by the new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
Working in teams of four, the girls will complete online tasks remotely on their school computers, with each stage being harder than the previous one.
The 10 groups with the highest scores will then be invited to the CyberFirst competition final in London to investigate a complex cyber threat.
CyberFirst’s winning team will be awarded £1,000 worth of computer equipment for their school, as well as individual prizes.
The NCSC was set up to be the main body for cyber security at a national level.
It manages national cyber security incidents, carries out real-time threat analysis and provides advice.
An NCSC spokeswoman said: “Women can, and do, make a huge difference in cyber security – this competition could inspire many more to take their first steps into this dynamic and rewarding career.”
Government Communications Headquarters director Robert Hannigan said: “I work alongside some truly brilliant women who help protect the UK from all manner of online threats.
“The CyberFirst Girls competition allows teams of young women a glimpse of this exciting world and provides a great opportunity to use new skills.”