The event was officially launched by the Hon Karen Andrew MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, via a video statement.
The Cyber Challenges program will be taught in conjunction with the compulsory Digital Technologies Curriculum and aims to close the growing gap in cyber security awareness and skills amongst Australian students.
The program, which will be delivered by the ACA, consists of four uniquely designed, interactive 'Challenges', the first of which has already been unveiled.
Challenge #1 introduces students to cyber security fundamentals and is now accessible by teachers and schools across the country.
The program is the first cross-industry coalition of its kind in Australia, with the ACA spearheading a unique collaborative effort with AustCyber (Australian Cyber Security Growth Network), ANZ, Commonwealth Bank (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Westpac and BT (British Telecom).
These industry partners have brought real-life cyber security experience and expertise to the program and the Challenges have been developed and designed with the input of their security experts.
The partnership also emphasises the critical need for schools, government and Australia’s business sector to address the immediate skills shortage, while also fostering a longer term cyber security culture within Australia’s education system and future workforce.
According to AustCyber’s Cyber Security Sector Competitiveness Plan, Australia will need 18,000 more cyber security workers by 2026 and this program provides a step in the right direction to address that gap.
Students from St Andrews Cathedral School and other local schools attending the official launch had the chance to experience the program first-hand, demonstrating how Challenge #1 enables students to think from an attacker’s perspective.
This first Challenge involves students hacking and collecting personal information from the social media profiles of fictitious characters, including simulated banking, email, online shopping accounts and even parent posts.
Speaking at the launch, Associate Professor James Curran, Academic Director of the Australian Computing Academy, and one of the original authors of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, said there is a significant lack of awareness and skills around cyber security - in society in general, and amongst students.
"The Schools Cyber Security Challenges addresses this gap by fostering security-conscious students who are well equipped to deal with cyber security challenges both in their personal lives, and later, in the workforce," he said.
“Teachers and parents concerned about cyber security can now be confident that their students and children will be vigilant in all aspects of their digital lives by participating in the Schools Cyber Security Challenges.
"Students will also be presented with a new perspective on pursuing a potential career in cyber security,” Curran added.
CEO of AustCyber, Michelle Price, said it is critical for Australia’s economic prosperity that we build a highly skilled and educated cyber security workforce, as well as ensure all students, parents and teachers across the country have access to cyber security resources aligned to the Digital Technologies curriculum.
"By focusing on Australian students, Cyber Challenges provides an important foundational step towards resolving skills shortages and supporting a sustained skills pipeline for generations to come,” she said.
Security leaders from ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac and BT attending the launch.
The remaining three challenges are scheduled to launch over 2019 and will focus on: Data transmission and encryption; Wired and wireless network security; and Web application security.
Teachers are encouraged to visit the Cyber Challenges website and get involved in the initiative.