COVID-19: We're making some changes to our program to make sure you can continue to play Girls Go CyberStart during this difficult time. Learn more >

Learn ethical hacking, forensics and Linux for free

Work your way through a vast online training game to learn new skills and compete for cash prizes!

Win up to $400 in cash prizes!

Whether you’re already a white-hat hacker in training or you’ve never touched a keyboard before, you can take part in Girls Go CyberStart. You’ll test your natural creativity, problem solving ability, and curiosity by taking on the role of a security agent to crack codes and stop cyber criminals in their tracks. We have over 200 challenges for you to tackle either on your own or in a team with friends!

What is Girls Go CyberStart?

Girls Go CyberStart is a fun and interactive online program composed of digital challenges to introduce high school girls to cybersecurity. Over 10k high school girls have taken part in the Girls Go CyberStart program so far and loved it!

The program is made up of three stages. You start by participating in a fun online tryout called CyberStart Assess. Score 5 or more at this stage to qualify for the next stage, CyberStart Game. Here you’ll master techniques needed to contend in an online Capture the Flag in CyberStart Compete! Find out more about each stage.

Count me in! How do I get involved?

You can take part as an individual or as part of a Club. If you want to be part of a Club, simply register as normal and you’ll be prompted to join a club once you’re in. If there isn’t a Club running in your school, tell your teacher about the program and get them onboard!

However you want to play, the sign-up process is quick and simple! Head to our sign-up page now and follow the instructions to join the program. You can start playing the first stage straight away. But hurry – there’s only one registration window per year and this year’s closes on February 14.

What you’ll learn

No prior experience is needed to take part! We’ll build your knowledge through the program by introducing you to exciting topics like cryptography, web vulnerabilities, Python, Linux and forensics. Teamwork, persistence and determination are key.

Whether you already know a bit about computer science, or have never considered a career in technology, you’ll love Girls Go CyberStart!

Track your State's progress

You can follow your State as it climbs the leaderboard and see how your Club can help push it up the ranks here.

"Thank you for this opportunity. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and now I do thanks to this program."

Selena V., Hawaii

Why join Girls Go CyberStart?

Access hundreds of hours of free digital challenges to build your skills with CyberStart Game.
Win up to $400 in cash prizes!
Join over 10,000 girls across the nation taking on cybercriminals and protecting our digital world.

The program

Girls Go CyberStart is completely free.

To be eligible to participate, students must:

  • Identify as female.
  • Be at least 13 years old on December 2, 2019.
  • Be enrolled in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade at a public or private school (or the homeschool equivalent).

Got more questions? Check out our FAQ section below.

Key dates

Each of the three stages get more challenging as you progress through them.

CyberStart Assess
Jan 13 – February 14, 2020
CyberStart Game
February 10 – June 30, 2020
CyberStart Compete
May 14 – May 15, 2020
CyberStart student

Key stages and dates

You can take part in every stage on your own or join a Club to compete with friends! However, you must be in a Club before registration closes on February 14 2020 to progress as a team through the rest of the competition!

CyberStart Assess

Open January 13 to February 14, 2020

Puzzle through 14 interactive challenges in this initial try-out stage to see how your problem-solving skills can be used in cybersecurity. Score 5 or more to qualify for CyberStart Game! There are two chances to qualify;

  1. Score 5 by Friday 7 February to play Game from Monday 10 February OR
  2. Score 5 by Friday 14 February to play Game from Monday 17 February.
Win rewards!

Take part as a Club and win!

If you qualify for CyberStart Game, your Club will receive 1 entry into a prize draw for a chance to win $1,000. The drawing will take place at the end of Assess and 3 lucky schools will be awarded $1,000 each!

CyberStart Game

Open from February 10, 2020 to June 30, 2020

Take on the role of a security agent in CyberStart Game to gather information, crack codes, find security flaws and dissect a cyber criminals’ digital trails!

Win rewards!

Take part as a Club and win!

For every five girls who qualify for CyberStart Game, we will offer non-competitive game licenses for any student, regardless of gender, to learn about cybersecurity. So, more students will be able to discover their interest in the field.

National Championship for Girls Go CyberStart

Open from May 14, 2020 to May 15, 2020

The top performing girls in CyberStart Game will be invited to take part in CyberStart Compete, an online Capture the Flag competition. You will compete against girls across the nation to win cash prizes and recognition from your Governor!

The top 5 competitors in the National Championship will win $400 each!

Win rewards!

Take part as a Club and win!

Top scoring clubs in each state will be invited to select four girls to play as a team in CyberStart Compete, an online Capture the Flag competition. Teams will compete against all other schools nationally to win 1st, 2nd and 3rd place titles along with prizes and recognition from their Governor.

Top scoring teams nationally:

  • 1st prize = $400 per team member and $250 for their school
  • 2nd prize = $300 per team member and $250 for their school
  • 3rd prize = $200 per team member and $250 for their school

Top scoring teams in each state:

  • 1st prize = $100 per team member and $100 for their school
  • 2nd prize = $75 per team member and $100 for their school
  • 3rd prize = $50 per team member and $100 for their school

Try some cybersecurity challenges right now through CyberStart Go

Head over to CyberStart Go, a tool we built to give you a quick sample of what CyberStart Assess and Game are like. It's free to use and features over a dozen challenges.

COVID-19 Program Changes

Our mission

Our mission in Girls Go CyberStart is to support young women to develop their creativethinking, problem-solving skills and explore cybersecurity in a safe, barrier-free environment.

With the events taking place in the world right now, we don’t want it to affect your progress, or to reflect on what you could achieve. Which is why we are making some changes to our program, to ensure you can get everything you need, no matter where you are.

Changes to our selection criteria

With schools closing we know that students may have trouble accessing resources, and teachers, to be able to continue learning. And that can make it a lot harder to make progress through Girls Go CyberStart. We want to make sure that students who would have been able to qualify for the National Championship for Girls Go CyberStart 2020, without these disruptions, still get the chance to participate. For this reason we are changing the criteria to qualify for our National Championship.

  • In the team competition, at least 1 Club student has to complete at least 1 challenge in Level 6 of the HQ base in CyberStart Game to qualify their team.
  • In the individual competition, students must complete at least 1 challenge in Level 6 of the HQ base in CyberStart Game to qualify

Changes to the National Championship dates

So many girls have put in a a huge amount of effort and commitment to reach this stage and we don’t want the recent events to limit anyone’s ability to qualify and participate. For this reason, we are extending the calendar for the National Championship for Girls Go CyberStart 2020.

  • The National Championship will now be on May 14, 2020 - May 15, 2020
  • This means that the cut off for Game scores to qualify will now be May 4, 2020
  • Teachers will have between the May 6 – 8, 2020 to make their team selections for the team competition

Extending your access to CyberStart Game

We will be extending your access to CyberStart Game until June 30. We want to make sure that you have a brilliant resource open to you to keep your cyber-savvy minds alert. Making sure you have the resources you need to build your skills is important to us, and we don’t want you to have any barriers to your learning.

For some resources and tips for how to continue playing Girls Go CyberStart at home, check out our blog.

We hope these changes mean you are supported, able to develop your cybersecurity skills and most importantly have fun during this difficult time! If you have any questions around the new program changes, please get in touch by emailing support@girlsgocyberstart.org

Frequently Asked Questions

What's a Club?

A Club is a way to associate all of the girls competing in Girls Go CyberStart from your school or organization.

Do I have to be in a Club to take part?

Not at all! If your school has a Club, we encourage you to join it so you can have fun playing alongside your friends. But we recognize that not every school or organization has a Club running. So, if you want to play Girls Go CyberStart as an individual that’s fine too. Simply sign up like normal!

May I join a Club through a youth or homeschool organization?

Yes, a Club may be associated with any (public or private) school or any youth organization, including Girl Scouts, the YWCA, or a homeschool association.

How do I join my school or organization’s Club?

First step is to register to play Girls Go CyberStart. Then, if there is a Club you’d like to join, you’ll need to ask the Club Advisor for their Club Access Code. You’ll be prompted to enter this Access Code in your student dashboard to join a Club. If there is an error when you use the code, the code may have expired. But don’t worry, just let your Advisor know and they can generate a new one.

What is a Club Access Code?

When an Advisor sets up a GGCS Club, they get a unique Club Access Code assigned to their club to allow their students to join. You’ll need to get this code from your Advisor before you can join your school’s GGCS Club. If there is an error when you use the code, the code may have expired. But don’t worry, just let your Advisor know and they can generate a new one.

How many Clubs may students join?

Students may only participate in one Club. They cannot change Club for the duration of the program and it must be your organization or school’s Club

What is the deadline for the CyberStart Game intakes?

Score 5 or more in CyberStart Assess to qualify for CyberStart Game! There are two chances to qualify;

  1. Score 5 by the end of Friday 7 February to play Game from Monday 10 February OR
  2. Score 5 by the end of Friday 14 February to play Game from Monday 17 February.
CyberStart students

What are the rules?

  • Research isn't cheating!
  • Students are actively encouraged to use the Internet to find ways to solve any challenge.
  • Advisors/teachers/parents may assist in the installation or troubleshooting of software and equipment.
  • Students may use any freely available tool to complete a given challenge.
  • Tools that must be purchased (e.g., ordered online) are not allowed.

What is a Capture the Flag?

‘Capture the Flag’ (CTF) cybersecurity competitions don’t involve first-person shooters or running around outdoors. Instead, cybersecurity CTF’s involve a set of computer security puzzles and challenges that test your skills in areas such as reverse-engineering, memory corruption and cryptography. When a challenge is solved, it gives the players a flag — a secret string of code that can be exchanged for points. The more points, the higher the team moves up in rank.

What equipment will I need?

For CyberStart Assess:

  • A computer or Chromebook.
  • A reliable Internet connection.
  • Chrome or Firefox browser (including access to the developer tools within the browser - example: View Source or Inspect Element or scripting abilities).

For CyberStart Game (stage 2):

  • A computer with VMware or Virtual Box, in order to run the CyberStart Virtual Machine for Game. Early levels of Game do not require the virtual machine but you will need this to play beyond Level 5 and try the forensics challenges.
  • Unrestricted access to browser developer tools/settings - example: View Source or Inspect Element or scripting abilities.

Note: Many school computers have restrictions that limit access to the browser tools functions. Check with your school IT professional to see if these blocks can be temporarily lifted for the competition or plan to use unrestricted equipment, like home computers or computers at public libraries, for the more advanced challenges.

Note also: Chromebooks won't work beyond level 6 in Game.

Our mission

To create a platform where every girl who enjoys creative thinking, problem solving, and reading between the lines can explore cybersecurity in a safe, barrier-free environment.

Our supporters

If you require any help or further information please email support@girlsgocyberstart.org and we'll be happy to help.