We're empowering girls to become the next leaders in cybersecurity and help protect the web. Could that be you?

Join Girls Go CyberStart and you could win up to $1,000 for your school!

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 it?

Girls Go CyberStart is a fun and interactive series of digital challenges designed to introduce you to the field of cybersecurity. More than 6,600 high school girls played Girls Go CyberStart in 2018 and loved it! Best of all? You will compete in three stages for the chance to win cash prizes for you and your school as well as scholarships to help pay for college.

No prior experience is required as the program gradually builds your knowledge base, introducing you to exciting topics like cryptography, web vulnerabilities, Python, Linux and forensics. Teamwork, persistence and determination are key. Whether you already know a bit about coding, or have never considered a career in technology, you'll enjoy Girls Go CyberStart!

So what are you waiting for? Grab your friends and sign up for the chance to win great prizes for you and your school!

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

Julia S., Maine.

How do I know if I've got what it takes?

Do you enjoy solving puzzles, using logic to work through challenging tasks and learning new skills? Then this is for you!

People who enjoy learning new languages, math, or music often excel in this field - but so do people who prefer geography, history and drama! Whatever your passion, there's only one way to find out if you'll also love cybersecurity. Give it a shot!

Count me in! How do I get started?

First, check whether your school is in one of the eligible states. Second, sign up as an individual or encourage an Advisor to set up a Club for your school or organization!

During CyberStart Assess, you can participate as an individual or as part of a Club but to progress to the CyberStart Game, you MUST be in a registered Club.

What's an advisor and what does it involve?

An advisor can be any teacher, administrator or adult associated with your school or organization. Advisors must sign up for an account when registration opens and then register your Club. Once registered, they can ensure all participating students at your school are part of the Club before the end of Assess, the first portion of the Girls Go CyberStart program.

If you can't find an advisor right away, don't panic! You can still sign up as an individual. You have until CyberStart Assess closes to find an advisor that will register on behalf of your Club!

What is my role as an Advisor?

1. Ensure your students' accounts are associated with your Club account so that your group can qualify for CyberStart Game.

2. Help motivate and support your students as they progress through the challenges. You don't need any experience with cybersecurity to become an advisor!

The program

CyberStart student

"Thank you for this opportunity. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and now I do thanks to this program."

Selena V., Hawaii.

Girls Go CyberStart is completely free.

To be eligible to participate, you must:

  • Identify as female
  • Be at least 13 years old on February 18, 2019
  • Be enrolled in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade at a public or private school (or the homeschool equivalent) in one of the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Got more questions? Check out our FAQ section below.

For every 5 girls registered to a Club who have completed at least 2 challenges, your school will receive 1 entry for a chance to win $1,000. The drawing will take place at the end of Assess and three lucky schools will be awarded the prize!

At the end of Assess the three Clubs in each state with the most girls registered, who have engaged in at least one challenge, will win: 1st place = $1,000, 2nd place = $750, 3rd place = $500.

By taking part in Girls Go CyberStart, you could be attending the 2020 Women In Cybersecurity conference (WiCys)! Only Girls Go CyberStart participants can enter the 2019 'What If Essay Contest' to be in with the chance of winning travel, hotel and conference registration to this inspiring event. More information can be found here.

Key stages and dates

Girls Go CyberStart is made up of three stages. You start by participating in a fun online tryout called CyberStart Assess. Clubs that meet the program's selection criteria will move on to CyberStart Game where they'll master all of the techniques needed to compete in an online game of Capture the Flag in CyberStart Compete!

CyberStart Assess

You can play Assess from March 20, 2019 to April 12, 2019.

This initial assessment invites you to take on a set of fun, interactive challenges that represent realistic scenarios and threats faced by practitioners in the field of cybersecurity.

How do we qualify for CyberStart Game?

To be eligible for selection to Game, Clubs need to have a minimum of 5 girls registered who have completed 6 challenges each. If your Club qualifies for CyberStart Game, your school will be awarded 50 additional Game licenses that can be used by ANY students in the school!

CyberStart Game

Game is open from April 22 to June 28, 2019

Focusing on self-learning, CyberStart Game uses hundreds of online challenges to develop interest in security disciplines, such as Linux, cryptography and programming.

"As the game progresses, students visibly develop the drive to solve that next challenge, and then the next. The motivation to research, collaborate, 'try-fail-try-fail-try and try again' is a skill set that will serve them in whatever career they pursue."

CyberStart Club Advisor

You will take on the role of a security agent, gathering information, cracking codes, finding security flaws and dissecting a cyber criminal's digital trail, using our in-tool resources, working together, and researching techniques to advance to the next challenge.

At least 10 high school juniors and/or seniors in each state who score highly in Game will win $500 scholarships to help them pay for college.

CyberStart Compete

The competition takes place from June 5 to June 7 2019

The top schools in each state will be invited to select up to four girls to participate in CyberStart Compete, an online Capture the Flag competition. Teams will compete against all other schools nationally to win prizes!

The Capture the Flag competition is played in teams of 4 girls, with prizes awarded as follows:

Top scoring Capture the Flag 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 Capture the Flag 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

For students

CyberStart students

What are the rules?

  • Research isn't cheating! You are actively encouraged to use the Internet to find ways to solve any challenge.
  • Advisors/teachers/parents may assist in the installation or troubleshooting of software and equipment.
  • Students may use any freely available tool to complete a given challenge.
  • Tools that must be purchased (e.g., ordered online) are not allowed.

May I join another school's Club?

No, you must be enrolled as a student at a school to join its Club.

May I join a Club through my youth or homeschool organization?

Yes! You may and the process is the same as joining a school Club.

How many Clubs may I join?

You may only participate in one Club.

Once I join a Club, may I change?

No, you must remain part of the same Club for the duration of the 2019 program.

My school or organization qualified for the CyberStart Compete, but I didn't register my account in the Club. May I still participate in their CyberStart Compete team?

No, only student accounts that previously registered for their school's Club can be selected for their Capture the Flag team.

I only want to play Assess - may I skip joining a Club and just play as an Individual?

Yes!

May I work with other girls who have registered to my Club?

Yes, working with others is a great way to learn, and often a lot more fun.

For advisors

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.

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.

CyberStart students

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.

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