LONDON — At the official launch of CyberCenturion Vll, Nick Chaffey, chief executive for the U.K., Europe, and Middle East at Northrop Grumman, announced the 2020/2021 focus of the competition will be on encouraging greater diversity in the cybersecurity sector.

CyberCenturion VII is open to all secondary school students in the U.K., U.K. Crown Dependencies, and U.K. Overseas Territories. It starts in October 2020 with the national finals due to take place in April 2021. CyberCenturion is the U.K. edition of the global CyberPatriot program, sponsored and led by Northrop Grumman, designed by the U.S. Air Force Association, and delivered in the U.K. in partnership with the Cyber Security Challenge U.K.

“Our mission at Northrop Grumman is to recruit, develop, and retain the most talented employees, and that means having access to the most diverse talent pool to ensure that our cybe security teams retain a vigor and dynamism that matches the challenges in our sector.” Chaffey said. “We believe that continuing to create a workforce and a workplace that is diverse and values diversity and fosters inclusion is both the right thing to do and pivotal to delivering innovation. It will take time for CyberCenturion to reach every school in every neighborhood, but we are asking for your support to achieve this important aim.”

CyberCenturion is a U.K.-wide competition that gives secondary school pupils the opportunity to develop and bring a myriad of skills into play to crack cybercrime. The multi-round event, for which there is no fee to participate, culminates in a national final for the highest scoring teams. If COVID-19 restrictions prevent a face-to-face final in 2021, in line with qualifying rounds, the final will take place as a virtual event.

CyberCenturion VII is adopting the theme of space to highlight the unlimited opportunity that young people from all backgrounds in cybersecurity have, linked to the pioneering work Northrop Grumman does in space. This ranges from the historic Lunar Module, the vehicle that landed men on the moon, to the Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV), and James Webb Space Telescope today.

Nitya Sri Adapala is a past winner of CyberCenturion.

“It opened my eyes and those of my teammates to a whole world of inspirational people that we could talk to and learn from,” Adapala said. “As a direct result of entering CyberCenturion, the enrolment onto computer sciences at our school went from three people to 18. It’s been fantastic, and I do feel proud of myself and my teammates for encouraging girls into the industry.”

Teams have the opportunity to register and participate in online training and practice rounds before the first live competitive round of CyberCenturion Vll, which takes place on Friday, Nov. 13.