We’re helping girls across the nation become the next leaders in cybersecurity

There's a huge shortage of cybersecurity experts in the US. Girls Go CyberStart encourages high school girls to explore the exciting career opportunities in the field, join the global cybersecurity community, and learn skills that will ensure our country offers a safe place to live, work and play online.

What is Girls Go CyberStart?

Girls Go CyberStart is a fun, free and interactive online program composed of digital challenges to introduce high school girls to cybersecurity. Over 10K high school girls have taken part and loved the Girls Go CyberStart program so far!

High school teachers across the US can help find the next cybersecurity superstars by becoming Advisors and running a Girls Go CyberStart Club in their school.

No prior experience is required to become an Advisor, we provide everything you need! The program will gradually build your students’ knowledge, introducing them to exciting topics like cryptography, web vulnerabilities, Python, Linux and forensics. Teamwork, persistence and determination are key. Whether your students already know a bit about computer science, or have never considered a career in technology, they’ll love Girls Go CyberStart!

"It was really fun doing the problems and finding out that I have talent in the coding field."

Julia S., Maine.

What is a Girls Go CyberStart Advisor?

An advisor can be any teacher, administrator or adult associated with a school or organization. No tech skills are required from you, just a passion and enthusiasm for helping your students learn. Advisors can spend as much or as little time as they want engaging in running a club; the program fits around you and your students.

Students who enjoy computing, STEM subjects or languages, plus students who love solving puzzles, often excel in this field. But so do people who prefer geography, history and drama.

Teachers can register as Advisors on December 2. Once registered, Advisors can set up and invite students to their Girls Go CyberStart Club. Then, get ready to play on January 13.

What will my students learn?

By the end of playing Girls Go CyberStart, your students will have delved into disciplines such as cryptography, digital forensics and open source intelligence gathering plus many more.

The levels get increasingly difficult, but CyberStart Assess is designed to be accessible to any student and uncover those hidden superstars with natural ability, regardless of whether they already study computer science!

Track your State's progress

You can follow your State as it climbs the leaderboard and see how your Club can help push it up the ranks here.

The program

Girls Go CyberStart is completely free.

To be eligible to participate, students must:

  • Identify as female.
  • Be at least 13 years old on December 2, 2019.
  • Be enrolled in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade at a public or private school (or the homeschool equivalent).
  • Join a Girls Go CyberStart Club.

Got more questions? Check out our FAQ section below.

Key dates

Advisors register and set up their Club
December 2, 2019 – January 31, 2020
CyberStart Assess
January 13 – January 31, 2020
CyberStart Game
February 10 – April 17, 2020
CyberStart Compete
April 23 – April 24, 2020
CyberStart students

"You have motivated me to pursue cybersecurity as a possible career and believe that I actually have a chance to succeed."

Previous Girls Go CyberStart Student

"Girls Go CyberStart REALLY made a big impact on my daughter! The first year, she had zero experience in computer coding or cybersecurity. After competing, she decided to take AP Comp Sci A. Not only did she earn the scholarship from you, she also secured a summer internship next year at the NJ Cyber Security Office!"

Parent of Previous Participant

Key stages and dates

Registration opens on December 2, 2019. You can set up and invite students to your Club from this date.

CyberStart Assess

Open from January 13, 2020 to January 31, 2020

Girls will take on a set of fun, interactive challenges that represent realistic scenarios and threats faced by practitioners in the field of cybersecurity. Students who solve 5 or more challenges will qualify for CyberStart Game

Win rewards along the way!

For every girl who qualifies for CyberStart Game, your Club will receive 1 entry into a prize draw for a chance to win $1,000. The draw will take place at the end of Assess and 3 lucky schools will be awarded $1,000 each!

CyberStart Game

Open from February 10, 2020 to April 17, 2020

A gamified environment where students play as “Cyber Agents” solving digital crimes by gathering information, cracking codes, finding security flaws, and dissecting a cyber criminal’s digital trail. Clubs with the highest overall performance in Game will qualify for CyberStart Compete.

For every five girls who qualify for CyberStart Game, we will offer non-competitive game licenses for any student, regardless of gender, to learn about cybersecurity. So, more students will be able to discover their interest in the field.

National Championship for Girls Go CyberStart

Open from April 23, 2020 to April 24, 2020

Top scoring clubs in each state will be invited to select four girls to play as a team in CyberStart Compete, an online Capture the Flag competition. Teams will compete against all other schools nationally to win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place National and State titles along with prizes and recognition from their Governor.

Winners of CyberStart Compete, will be awarded the following prizes:

Top scoring teams nationally:

  • 1st prize = $400 per team member and $250 for their school
  • 2nd prize = $300 per team member and $250 for their school
  • 3rd prize = $200 per team member and $250 for their school

Top scoring teams in each state:

  • 1st prize = $100 per team member and $100 for their school
  • 2nd prize = $75 per team member and $100 for their school
  • 3rd prize = $50 per team member and $100 for their school

Want to try something right now?

Head over to CyberStart Go, a tool we built to give you a quick sample of what CyberStart Assess and Game are like. It's free to use and features over a dozen challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's a Club?

A Club is a way to associate all of the girls competing in Girls Go CyberStart from your school. It's used to achieve eligibility for CyberStart Game and for selecting a team for CyberStart Compete.

We aren't a school - may we create a Club?

A Club may be associated with any (public or private) school or any youth organization, including Girl Scouts, the YWCA, or a homeschool association.

What is a Club Access Code?

After you have registered to run a GGCS Club, you will need to create a Club Access Code to be able to invite students to join your Club.

Your Club Access Code is a set of 4 randomly generated words that will be unique to your Club. You will need to share this code with your students so that they can join your Club when they register for GGCS. Each Club Access code can be used 100 times before it expires. After this, you can generate a new code through the your GGCS dashboard.

May a school have more than one Club?

More than one Club is permitted per school; however, qualification for CyberStart Compete is on a school-by-school basis. This means if your school qualifies for the Capture the Flag, you must select 4 girls across all Clubs in your school. When registering as an advisor from a school with more than one Club, please make sure you check the box that allows us to contact you about other students and/or Clubs participating from your school.

What is a Capture the Flag?

‘Capture the Flag’ (CTF) cybersecurity competitions don’t involve first-person shooters or running around outdoors. Instead, cybersecurity CTF’s involve a set of computer security puzzles and challenges that test your skills in areas such as reverse-engineering, memory corruption and cryptography. When a challenge is solved, it gives the players a flag — a secret string of code that can be exchanged for points. The more points, the higher the team moves up in rank.

What equipment will I need?

For CyberStart Assess:

  • A computer or Chromebook.
  • A reliable Internet connection.
  • Chrome or Firefox browser (including access to the developer tools within the browser - example: View Source or Inspect Element or scripting abilities).

For CyberStart Game (stage 2):

  • A computer with VMware or Virtual Box, in order to run the CyberStart Virtual Machine for Game. Early levels of Game do not require the virtual machine but you will need this to play beyond Level 5 and try the forensics challenges.
  • Unrestricted access to browser developer tools/settings - example: View Source or Inspect Element or scripting abilities.

Note: Many school computers have restrictions that limit access to the browser tools functions. Check with your school IT professional to see if these blocks can be temporarily lifted for the competition or plan to use unrestricted equipment, like home computers or computers at public libraries, for the more advanced challenges.

Note also: Chromebooks won't work beyond level 6 in Game.

"I could never have foreseen the incredible impact Girls Go CyberStart would make on my life and on my community. Without the chance to discover my passion for both the movement and the field, I'm sure I would never have achieved what I have with computer science."

Previous Girls Go CyberStart Student

If you require any help or further information please email support@girlsgocyberstart.org and we'll be happy to help.