Adults rely on teenagers for online security advice, GCHQ survey suggests

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Adults turn to older teenagers for help with online security advice more than their work colleagues or partners, revealing how families are increasingly reliant on children’s knowledge of technology.

Teenagers over the age of 16 were the preferred choice for advice on how to be secure online by 15%, compared to 10% who said they would ask work colleagues and 8% who would speak to a partner.

The research, carried out for GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) with 2,500 people, businesses and charities, suggests that 22% would turn to children aged over 16 for help creating online accounts, and by 19% to check security settings on a device.

“Children are a vital cog in protecting online devices but we can’t emphasise enough the importance of increasing the numbers of those actively participating in cyber security,” said Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for skills and growth.

“Whether this is for future professionals who are seeking a career within national security or on a wider societal context, ensuring children understand how networks work and not just how to use them will help to ensure the UK remains protected online now and in the future.”

The findings come as the NCSC prepares to crown the winner of its CyberFirst Girls competition in Edinburgh. Designed to encourage more young girls to consider cyber security as a career option, the competition attracted a record 12,000 girls aged 12 and 13 this year.

“The CyberFirst Girls competition is a great way of getting young women involved in a world they may not have known before taking part. Congratulations to all the girls who took part in this year’s competition and we look forward to seeing who claims the prize over the next two days,” Mr Ensor added.

Chris Price
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