Online cybersecurity training offers scholarship opportunities for Mississippi high school girls.

Governor Phil Bryant announced Friday a new, innovative cybersecurity training partnership between the SANS Institute and the State of Mississippi called GirlsGoCyberStart. This training is a free online game where every Mississippi high school girl can discover her talents in cybersecurity and learn about the field.

“Cybersecurity is the new frontier for protecting infrastructure, personal information and financial data. Mississippi needs a pipeline of talented cybersecurity professionals to help protect our way of life.” said Governor Phil Bryant. “I am excited that Mississippi is able to bring this type of training to our high school girls and encourage them to explore this cutting edge field.”


Participants do not need prior cybersecurity knowledge and can come from grades 9 through 12. Students from Mississippi who excel in the GirlsGoCyberStart game will have the opportunity to win prizes including: Dell Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi computers and other cool techie things as well as gift certificates.  Each member of the top teams, nationally, will win all expense paid trips to the Women in CyberSecurity Conference (WiCyS) in Chicago along with a parent for each winner.

In addition, the three schools in the state that have the most participants will win awards of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000.

“The GirlsGoCyberStart program is an excellent and fun opportunity for students who think they may be interested in cybersecurity to determine if they have the passion and aptitude to pursue it as a career,” said Governor Bryant. “I hope young people all across the state take advantage of this great opportunity.”

Each player in GirlsGoCyberStart begins as a “cyber protection agent” responsible for protecting an important operational base. The student chooses and solves challenges, earning points along the way. A cyber protection agent field manual provides answers to questions that may arise and hints help when players get stuck. When the player has solved a sufficient number of challenges at one level, a new level opens up and new challenges appear – for a total of 31 levels. Students may participate from home or from school.

When asked why SANS is making this investment, SANS Director of Research, Alan Paller, said “We discovered that those who have mastered the topics taught and measured in the GirlsCyberStart program do far better than others in the advanced cybersecurity courses that prepare the critically needed people. By opening GirlsGoCyberStart to hundreds of thousands of students we may be able to help the nation identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.”

Sign-up begins on January 29th and ends on February 14th. Students will play and complete the training from February 20th through February 25th. There is no cost to the students who compete in this game.

An introductory web site with answers to other questions, a fuller description of the game, and sample challenge may be found at: www.girlsgocyberstart.com

Mississippi Department of Public Safety Press Release

1/12/2018