Huge interest in Cyber Discovery programme as over 20,000 sign up in first six weeks

London, UK – More than 20,000 students from across England have already signed up to and taken part in the initial assessment stage of the ground-breaking Cyber Discovery programme, a key part of the Government's CyberFirst initiative, in the six weeks since launch.

The figures are released as the deadline for those interested in taking part in the first pilot scheme approaches. The closing date for applications is January 21st.

The initiative was launched by the Prime Minister in November 2017 when she welcomed industry leaders to a Tech Sector Roundtable and Reception at No.10 Downing Street. Delivered for the Government by a consortium of the SANS Institute, BT, Cyber Security Challenge UK and FutureLearn, the programme aims to interest and inspire more young people aged 14-18 in cyber security.

One of the aims of the scheme is to inspire more women to take an interest in the cyber security industry and female students accounted for more than a quarter of the initial sign-ups.

London is leading the way with over 2000 students registered and taking part in the assessment stage, while there have been 600 student sign-ups in Birmingham, more than 500 in Manchester and more than 300 in Nottingham.

Hundreds of those who have completed the series of fun challenges in the assessment stage look like they may have the necessary talent to take them onto the next stage of Cyber Discovery. They have excelled in a series of difficult online scenarios and will shortly be put forward to take part in the second stage, CyberStart Game, which will provide hundreds of hours of further challenges and teaching to help train the country's potential young cyber security experts.

Minister for Digital Matt Hancock said: "I'm delighted to see so many young people are interested in cyber security and have tested their talents in this ground breaking scheme. Cyber security offers fascinating and varied career opportunities, and I encourage inquisitive students across the country to challenge themselves to see if they've got what it takes before the deadline closes."

James Lyne, Head of Research and Development at SANS Institute, said of the milestone: "20,000 sign ups within six weeks of launch is an unbelievable result. We're very pleased with the results so far but are keen to see even more students sign up to take part before the closing date of 21 January. Students should register now to see if they have what it takes to join the next stage of Cyber Discovery. This will provide hundreds of hours of additional fun challenges and opportunities to learn about cyber security."

To learn more about Cyber Discovery and get involved, visit, and follow @CyberDiscUK on Twitter.

Notes to editors

  • The first pilot year of the programme has been launched in England and the aim is to roll it out to other parts of the UK.
  • Cyber Discovery is a key part of the UK Government's £1.9bn National Cyber Security Strategy which will help ensure Britain remains a safe place to be online.
  • Those that pass CyberStart Game will progress to CyberStart Essentials after which they be put forward for the final CyberStart Elite phase of the programme.

About SANS Institute

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. Today, SANS is the most trusted and, by far, the largest provider of cyber security training and certification to professionals in government and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach more than 60 courses at in-person and virtual cyber security training events and on demand. GIAC, an affiliate of the SANS Institute, validates practitioner skills through more than 35 hands-on, technical certifications in cyber security. The SANS Technology Institute, a regionally accredited independent subsidiary, offers a master’s degree, graduate certificates, and an undergraduate certificate in cyber security. SANS Security Awareness, a division of SANS, provides organizations with a complete and comprehensive security awareness solution, enabling them to easily and effectively manage their ‘human’ cybersecurity risk. SANS also delivers a wide variety of free resources to the InfoSec community including consensus projects, research reports, webcasts, podcasts, and newsletters; it also operates the Internet's early warning system–the Internet Storm Center. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to support and educate the global information security community. (