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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


30 October 2023

It’s cyber month and a perfect time for this exciting event, as there wasn’t a seat left last week when schools from across Northern Ireland were invited to take part in an exciting day of all things cyber including a challenge competition.  The event was hosted by Reserve Forces and Cadets Association Northern Ireland (RFCA NI) and facilitated  by Warrant Officer Richard Cole from 13 Royal Signals Regiment, who had cyber intelligence officers working remotely within Europe, to ensure the smooth running of the competition and provide support for any technical issues.

The day began with keynote speakers including All State and Enhance and also Included was a very interesting presentation of Northern Ireland’s cyber industry delivered by Eamonn Brankin - CyberFirst NI Project Lead and Chair of the NI Cyber Skills Group, some of the statistics were staggering! The industry has one of the highest concentration of cyber security businesses worldwide.  It is estimated that the value to the Northern Ireland economy by 2030 will be £437m, and over 43m has been raised by Northern Ireland’s cyber security since 2018.  It is growing at a rapid rate and the students were encouraged to look at cyber security as a career, in fact the average salary starts at £53,000!   Northern Ireland is renowned globally for its talent in cyber security, software development and engineering skills.  Very much driven by the role of Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, the open university and Belfast Met.


The cyber security challenge consisted of a Capture the Flag competition designed to not only challenge the cyber security students problem solving skills and at the same time introducing a broad range of security topics.  Each of teams worked closely together to solve a series of increasingly difficult and complex challenges.

Everyone taking part was presented with a medal by RFCA’s Deputy Chief Executive, Brian Sykes. Congratulations and a special mention to those schools who won in their category, including; Ballycastle High School, Victoria College, Belfast, Cookstown High School and Strathearn, Belfast.

Speaking at the event Dr Bryan McKinstry, Head of Junior School at Lisnagarvey High School and Commander of the CCF detachment said” We have had a fantastic day, it was very well run and the students were certainly tested and challenged.  It was great to see the enthusiasm as they worked as one team and work through to reach the end of the challenge, they are excited and already asking if they can attend next year’s event, which of course will be a yes! It was also good to hear about the huge growth in the cyber industry and the many opportunities available locally, it was especially useful for the students who are now thinking about which career path to follow when they leave school.”