Join girls across the nation taking on cybercriminals and protecting our digital world

Girls Go CyberStart is a free, Governor-backed online program turning girls across the nation into cybersecurity superheroes! Through interactive games and challenges, you can learn the skills that cybersecurity professionals use every day. To take part, an Advisor must set up a Club and invite you to register!

What is Girls Go CyberStart?

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

The program is made up of three stages. You start by participating in a fun online tryout called CyberStart Assess. Girls who meet the program's selection criteria will move on to CyberStart Game where they'll master all of the techniques needed to contend in an online Capture the Flag in CyberStart Compete! Find out more about the program stages.

Count me in! How do I get involved?

To be able to take part in this year’s Girls Go CyberStart, you will need to:

  • Ask a teacher at your school to run a Club! Your teacher can sign up for information on how to register to run a Club here.
  • If you can’t find a teacher right away that wants to run a Club, don’t worry! Reach out to a teacher to let them know you want to take part here.
  • Once your teacher has registered to run a Girls Go CyberStart Club in your school, they can invite you to join and you can start playing on January 13.
  • Get ready to start playing by trying out CyberStart Go and reading our hints and tips blog.

What you’ll learn

No prior experience is needed to take part! We’ll build your knowledge through the program by 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 computer science, or have never considered a career in technology, you’ll love Girls Go CyberStart!

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.

"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

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

Your Club Advisor can invite you to their Club when registration opens on December 2. Each of the three stages get more challenging as you progress through them.

Club registration
December 2, 2019 – January 31, 2020
CyberStart Assess
Jan 13 – January 31, 2020
CyberStart Game
February 10 – April 17, 2020
CyberStart Compete
April 23 – April 24, 2020
CyberStart student

Key stages and dates

Registration opens on December 2, 2019

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

Open January 13 to January 31, 2020

Puzzle through 14 interactive challenges in this initial try-out stage to see how your problem-solving skills can be used in cybersecurity. Score 5 or more to qualify for the next stage!

Win rewards along the way!

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

CyberStart Game

Open February 10 to April 17, 2020

Take on the role of a security agent in CyberStart Game to gather information, crack codes, find security flaws and dissect a cyber criminals’ digital trails!

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 April 23 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

Try some cybersecurity challenges right now through CyberStart Go

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 or organization.

May students join a Club through a youth or homeschool organization?

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?

When an Advisor sets up a GGCS Club, they get a unique Club Access Code assigned to their club to allow their students to join. You’ll need to get this code from your Advisor before you can join your school’s GGCS Club. If there is an error when you use the code, the code may have expired. But don’t worry, just let your Advisor know and they can generate a new one.

What are the rules?

  • Research isn't cheating!
  • Students 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.

How many Clubs may students join?

Students may only participate in one Club. They cannot change Club for the duration of the program and it must be your organization or school’s Club

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.

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.