The country’s brightest young cyber minds have been crowned winners of Matrix Challenge 2020, a competition pitting the most talented 11-17-year-olds against a series of digital tasks aimed at promoting positive pathways into cyber security careers.
Beginning in January 2020, the competition saw 65,000 participants from around the United Kingdom use their digital skills to tackle coding, code breaking and knowledge-based challenges, with winners crowned in two age categories.
The North West region generated the largest amount of UK competition entries, with 14,000 young people taking part. 38 North West candidates made it through to the national final in January 2021.
In the North West, Gethin Brown, 14 year old pupil from from Wirral, Merseyside achieved third place nationally in the 11-14 category and won an Asus laptop.
Gethin Brown, a 14-year-old student from Calday Grange Grammar School, West Kirby said, “I’m really pleased to have come third place in the Matrix Challenge. It’s been a great experience and I’ve loved learning more about the law and cookies. I made sure I knew my way around the back end of a website before joining the challenge which I think definitely gave me a big advantage.”
Nicola Mounsey, a Curriculum Coordinator for Computing at Calday Grange Grammar School said, “I would like to say how proud we are of all the students that took part.”
The Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit first developed the Matrix Challenge in 2018 to promote key cyber security messages to young people.
Although the 2020 edition was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it proved to be the most widely participated event yet, with police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) leading the initiative across the country.
David Malkin, Head of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Cyber Crime Unit, said, “This year has been our most successful Matrix Challenge to date, and there’s no doubt the standard of contestants was higher than we’ve ever seen before. The UK is blessed to have so many talented individuals and a huge well done to the winners.”
“The challenge has been proven to educate young people and improve their knowledge around the computer misuse act, as well as how to stay safe online, so each participant will have taken something away from the competition. Equally, the challenge has proven to be a great lead into cyber and digital careers, engaging with young people from a variety of diverse backgrounds.”
“Running the Matrix Challenge during the pandemic has presented many unique challenges, and I’m really grateful for the collaborative effort of colleagues in both public and private sector agencies, particularly the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), Toasted Digital, Vodafone and colleagues across the ROCU network, who helped deliver an exciting and informative learning experience to every part of the UK.”
“No doubt the good work of the Matrix Challenge will continue to accelerate in 2021, with plans to deliver new, fresh and exciting content to the platform we hope to see even more talented young people engaged”.
Constable Phil Byrom from the North West Regional Cyber Crime Unit said, “The Matrix Challenge has been a great success in helping young people improve their knowledge regarding the Computer Misuse Act and internet safety. Participants have also received fantastic insight into cyber and digital careers available. We continue to work closely with public and private sector partners to deliver fresh and exciting content for Matrix Challenge 2021 and we hope to see even more talented young people from the North West taking part this year.”
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