Registration for this programme is now closed.

Cyber Discovery was launched in 2017 as a four-year programme, funded and supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as part of the UK’s National Cyber Security Strategy. The programme ended on June 30th 2021, however DCMS have announced their intention to procure another National Cyber Schools Programme that will launch later in 2021.

Cyber Discovery was created and delivered by SANS Institute as a free, extracurricular programme for 13 to 18 year-olds across the UK.

Teaching cyber security skills to thousands of young people

More than 100,000 young people took part in Cyber Discovery, progressing from an initial assessment phase into the vast, online cyber learning platform CyberStart.

Participants in CyberStart Game became agents for the virtual Cyber Protection Agency, attempting to stop criminal gangs from using their cyber skills to do damage online. Gamified challenges and lab exercises explored real-world cyber-attacks, highlighting the vital role that cyber security experts play in protecting our hospitals, banks, army, police services and more.

Important technical skills and security concepts were taught within an engaging storyline, utilising hundreds of hours of fun, hands-on exercises that spanned multiple cyber security disciplines.

Cyber Discovery also included more traditional methods of learning: the Essentials phase of the programme provided access to SANS’ Foundations course, teaching the vital theory and core knowledge that would complement the advanced technical skills developed in Cyber Discovery’s Game phase.

Cyber Discovery has completely changed my life due to the skills I’ve learned, the people I’ve met and the events and opportunities I’ve had

Previous Cyber Discovery student

A series of face to face and online events also allowed for interaction with members of the cyber security profession and gave insight into industry career opportunities.

Learn more about Cyber Discovery

Discovering and developing the UK’s most talented cyber defenders

Cyber Discovery was designed to be accessible to anyone, whether working alone or within an extracurricular school club.

Thousands of teachers registered as Club Leaders and set up Cyber Discovery Clubs for their pupils. Functionality allowed teachers to monitor progress online and an in-built Field Manual gave useful advice and guidance as club members worked through the multiple modules and stages.

Cyber Discovery has really changed my life. Thank you so much for all these opportunities, they’ve really left their mark in a good way and will continue to do so in my career!

Previous Cyber Discovery student

SANS’ school engagement team visited schools to provide demos and advice, while some schools also attended sessions at the Cyber Discovery training centre designed to encourage progression through the programme and inspire young people to pursue a cyber security career

The predominantly online format of the programme also meant that teachers were able to use Cyber Discovery as a vital learning resource while schools were closed. SANS and DCMS even launched a Virtual Cyber School to provide additional online resources during the challenging times of spring/summer 2020.

The Cyber Discovery journey

The Cyber Discovery journey consists of hundreds of hours’ worth of challenges, tasks and games across three stages. As you progress through the programme, the challenges get harder, but all the learning material and resources you need to progress at your own pace during each stage are provided.

Stage one of your journey involves working through a set of highly interactive challenges, each harder than the last. The quicker you complete the challenges in CyberStart Assess, the faster you unlock the next stage of the programme.

Once through from CyberStart Assess you'll be invited to play CyberStart Game! CyberStart Game involves a suite of over 200 online challenges to explore across 4 exciting bases (including a Volcano base!) and focuses on self-learning.

Students who complete at least one challenge in level six of HQ base are invited to CyberStart Essentials where you can get to grips with the basics of advanced security topics and concepts.

I have never really come across anything that goes from the complete basics to the advanced levels like Cyber Discovery does, and the impact it has had on my life is massive.

Previous Cyber Discovery student

Registration for this programme is now closed.

Take a closer look

Assess logo

Do you have what it takes to become the next cyber security superstar? You owe it to yourself to find out! Put your skills, passion and persistence to the test with our fun challenges in CyberStart Assess

Ready to outsmart power-mad cyborgs and show the ‘bots who’s boss? Battle through a series of online challenges and start defending the digital world with your problem solving skills!

Crack the codes, find the flags and deal with real-life cyber dilemmas as you boost practical and theoretical knowledge and build an impressive set of cyber credentials.

Game logo

Join a virtual cyber protection agency in CyberStart Game! Step up, crack codes, find security flaws and dissect criminal’s digital trails in the number one platform to develop cyber potential

I absolutely loved taking part! I got pretty hooked on the rush of investigation and problem solving.

Previous Cyber Discovery student

Sign up to play CyberStart Game and you’ll learn code breaking, ethical hacking and digital forensics. From binary to programming, you’ll develop skills by playing fun challenges designed and built by an expert team of security professionals.

With over 200+ immersive challenges through 4 themed bases and a range of awesome scenes to keep you entertained, it’s an addictive way to become a cyber pro!

Over 30,000 students are already loving this stage. Don’t play catch up – take advantage of the awesome opportunity to play CyberStart Game now and take your cyber training to the next level.

Essentials logo

Aspiring for cyber greatness? You’ve come to the right stage. Featuring hundreds of hours of rich content, CyberStart Essentials will transform you from a successful agent into one ready for industry!

Go further with deeper learning and discover more advanced security topics such as pen testing and networking. Then train your brain to think like an expert with interactive labs, videos and quizzes.

Covering a broad range of advanced security topics such as exploitation and pen testing tools, CyberStart Essentials stretches your scope on the industry’s awesome opportunities and preps you to secure the role of your cyber dreams!

You’ll learn at your own pace through videos, interactive labs and quizzes.

I was genuinely disappointed when Essentials closed, because it meant I lost access to an amazing resource that went well beyond what I had learnt in both GCSE and A-Level classes.

Previous Cyber Discovery student

Registration for this programme is now closed.

Be part of an exciting community

Students from around the country are engaging with the Cyber Discovery programme. Join them and be part of the conversation.
Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Medium.

I speak from personal experience when I say that I can't reccommend Cyber Discovery enough to students @RendcombCollege it’s an amazing program to develop skills outside of the curriculum. It has opened up fantastic opportunities for myself, from attending elite to career options

— Robert Sharman


"In my opinion, the highlight of the programme would definitely be CyberStart Game. Every challenge was interesting and unique, and the difficulty curve was just right to help you develop your skills." - Emily Shackleton, Student

Just finished my first @CyberDiscUK webinar...was really good, will deffo be joining in again! (a good revision of linux command line. hoping for something "super hard" in the next one!

— Ben Gristwood


"CyberStart Game is like nothing I've ever seen before. It was an absolute god-send for someone new to the industry, and for it to be free was the icing on the cake" - Daniel Milnes, Student

Day 12 of my #100DaysOfCode, I didn't do much programming other than work today. However I did complete the challenges over on @CyberDiscUK, stuck on two of them though. They're super fun, but you have to think out of the box... 👀️

— Bailey Matthews

Registration for this programme is now closed.

SANS Institute

Cyber Discovery is delivered by SANS Institute for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. SANS is the global leader in cyber security training and certification.


For any press enquires please contact SANS on
0203 384 3470 or DCMS press office on 020 7211 2210

CEOP Safety Centre

CEOP helps any child or young person under the age of 18 who is being pressured, forced or tricked into taking part in sexual activity of any kind. This can be something that has taken place either online or in 'the real world', or both. Visit the CEOP Safety Centre by clicking the button below.