Scots pupils are '˜first line of defence' against cybercrime
That means well-paid job opportunities in a sector with no shortage of work.
Now high school pupils from across Scotland will be asked if they have what it takes to become the first line of defence against online criminals.
A Christmas lecture series begins on Monday with the aim of making young people aware of careers in the industry and the realities of cyber crime.
Despite spending more time online than any other age group, younger Scots are more likely to fall victim to cybercrime, often by failing to protect their personal information.
Now in its fifth year, more than 2700 pupils are set to attend the lecture series, a collaboration between the private sector, police and Skills Development Scotland (SDS).
Cyber security is a growing concern across the economy, with business activity such as payments, shopping and trading increasingly conducted online.
Around 13.8 million people - almost one quarter of the population - were affected by cyber crime in the UK last year, an annual increase of 10 per cent.
The risks for businesses are clear - data loss can have an immediate effect on reputation, result in legal action, and have a negative impact on shareholder value.
With the average cost to large UK firms is £4.1 million per incident, capable security experts are highly prized.
The annual Cyber Security Christmas lectures series will visit Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow from December 12-16.
The lectures will also welcome its first international guest - Amalie Wedege, a security risk management expert from Danish firm Zero Alpha.
Amalie will be joined by experts including Eamonn Keane of Police Scotland, NCC Group’s Rory McCune, and Andrew Cumming of Napier University, who will deliver a talk on ‘keeping secrets with pure mathematics’.
Martin Beaton, national cyber security network integrator, a role appointed by Enterprise Scotland, is among the organisers.
“Surprisingly, digital native millennials have been shown to be among the groups most vulnerable to online crime and loss of personal information,” he said.
“Our Christmas lectures bring cyber security to life in a fun setting, helping pupils to understand the risks they face as well as the opportunities available if they choose a career in the sector.
“Scotland is a global leader in protecting and educating businesses and the wider population about cyber security, but we need to make sure that we have a pipeline of new talent to ensure we can thrive online in years to come.”
The events are supported by Digital World, an initiative developed by SDS in partnership with industry to encourage more young people to pursue digital technology careers.
Claire Gillespie, key sector manager for digital skills at SDS, said: “The digital technologies sector offers plenty of well-paid and interesting job opportunities and cyber security is one of the fastest growing specialisms.
“More than 10,000 school pupils have taken part in the lectures since 2011 and it’s fantastic to see the tour going from strength to strength.”
Maggie Morrison, a vice-president at event sponsors CGI in Scotland, said: “One of our core aims is to ensure that we have a digitally skilled nation in place, which can drive, deliver and protect businesses as we continue to embrace the online universe.
“Opportunities like this, which allow us to educate and engage with pupils at a point where they are making career choices and planning their futures, are therefore incredibly valuable.”