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Teenagers to be taught advanced cyber security skills

By Hayden Smith

Thousands of teenagers in England and Wales will be given intensive training in cyber security to boost Britain's defences against online attacks.

The scheme forms part of the Government's efforts to guard against a future skills shortage amid concern over the damage hackers or terrorists could inflict on the country.

Security experts have warned the UK faces a growing threat from cyber attacks, and the danger has been underlined by allegations about Russian interference in the US presidential election.

Officials said the Cyber Schools Programme aimed to encourage teenagers to develop some of the skills needed to work in cyber security and help defend the nation's businesses against online threats.

Ministers are making up to £20m available for extracurricular sessions that will see expert instructors drafted in to teach, test and train youths selected for the initiative.

A cyber curriculum will also be drawn up to mix classroom and online teaching with real-world challenges and hands-on work experience.

The scheme which is led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is aimed at people aged between 14 and 18, with a target for at least 5,700 teenagers to be trained by 2021.

Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said: "This forward-thinking programme will see thousands of the best and brightest young minds given the opportunity to learn cutting-edge cyber security skills alongside their secondary school studies."

Last week MPs warned that confidence in the Government's ability to protect Britain from high-level cyber attacks was being undermined by significant skills shortages.

The Public Accounts Committee said the threat of data loss from cyber crime, espionage and accidental disclosure had risen considerably in recent years.

In 2015, GCHQ dealt with 200 national security incidents a month - double the number it handled during the previous 12 months.

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