Cybersecurity, the new £50 and #The Turing Challenge

In October last year we highlighted the useful resources produced by the National Cyber Security Centre. It’s critical that schools review the measures they have in place regularly with their service providers or in-house support – two alerts have been issued recently by the NCSC on 23 March and, specifically for early years practitioners, on 16 March.

Secure digital platforms and technical infrastructure are an absolute prerequisite for remote and blended learning and teaching, as well as for schools’ internal and external facing processes and systems (and that, of course, includes equipment used at home as well as in school, whether by staff or students and their families).

Children’s rights in the digital world

Leaping from a local to an international level, children’s rights in the digital world have now been recognised by the UN (with an international celebration event yesterday that included such influential speakers as Professor Shoshana Zuboff, Professor Sonia Livingstone and Baronesses Beeban Kidron and Helena Kennedy). 

As the 5Rights poster celebrating this achievement puts it “Digital services should not take our personal information and use it in ways that are unfair or unjust, or allow others to use your information in ways that don’t benefit you”, and “Digital services must not target you with advertising, selling your information or allowing others to do so. You must be protected from violence of all sorts”. Find out more, including how children and young people have been intrinsic to the UN Committee on the rights of the child recognition, on 5Rights here.

The Turing £50

The need for this protection is not new (as we talk about in our year 5 Codebreakers workshops, with examples back to Roman times, as well as mention of Bletchley Park and Enigma).  The value of data and information and the need to protect it as well as to gain access to it in the interests of national security when under threat of war is in the spotlight today with the design of the new £50 note being revealed by the Bank of England. This celebrates the codebreaking and computing pioneer Alan Turing. 

According to the Bank of England:

The polymer £50 note contains advanced security features, completing our most secure set of Bank of England polymer banknotes yet. The note, like the £20, incorporates two windows and a two-colour foil, making it very difficult to counterfeit. There is also a hologram image which changes between the words ‘Fifty’ and ‘Pounds’ when tilting the note from side to side.  

 The #TuringChallenge

Today the Bank of England, in collaboration with GCHQ, also launches The Turing Challenge for all aspiring codebreakers and puzzle solvers: 

 The #TuringChallenge requires you to solve a string of puzzles which get increasingly difficult. Crack the answers to the first 11 puzzles which should give you 11 single words or names which you’ll need your very own Enigma simulator to decode!

In contrast to Turing’s experience in the past, GCHQ currently recognises the need to embrace diversity “where problem solving and a diverse mix of minds are at the heart of its work to help protect the UK from increasingly complex threats”.

Primary maths competition

Alongside the Turing Challenge, in collaboration with the Maths department of the University of Sheffield, the Bank of England has also just launched a primary competition. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this, which combines maths, algorithms and decoding, nature, history and patterns for Y5/6 – what’s not to like!

Cybersecurity tips

Returning to schools’ need to ensure they are taking sensible steps a good starting point is the NCSC 10 tips to cybersecurity and the sector-specific resources for schools.

Finally, the relatively new (September 2020) e-learning package Stay safe online: Top tips for staff is a short ask for colleagues to complete. For early years practitioners there is a new pdf overview.

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