Posted: Jun. 30, 2014

Raj Samani, EMEA CTO at McAfee

Today is an exciting day for the team at McAfee, as we officially launch our international Cyber Security Exhibition and Computer Learning Zone at Bletchley Park.

We initially announced our five-year partnership with Bletchley Park Trust back in October 2013, and since then, both organisations have been working hard to bring our vision of cyber security education for all to fruition.

Renovations have taken place in a block of Bletchley Park which has sat derelict for decades. The work that McAfee has committed to over the next five years will see this site preserved as a unique heritage site and home to the original genesis of cyber security – the World War II codebreakers. Our aim is to transform the site into a centre for educational excellence for many years to come; a place where children and adults alike can come to learn about the past, and prepare for the future by participating in workshops about today's ever-evolving cyber threat.

You may remember from my last blog post on this topic in March that, to coincide with this initiative, McAfee and Bletchley Park Trust launched a nationwide competition for kids. We asked children aged 8-11 across the UK to create their version of a 'next-generation' superhero – much like the code breakers of WWII – that will represent our partnership.

And the hunt for our next cyber saviour is over. Today I'm pleased to announce that Kirstyn, aged 9, from Little Paxton Primary School in Cambridgeshire is the winner of our competition! Let me introduce you to...'Super Safe Cyber Sally!' Sally has spectacles which allow her to look at every computer in the world, searching for trouble. Her belt alerts her to online villains, and her hair bow blows bubbles which turn mean messages from bullies into good messages. Sally certainly sounds like a force to be reckoned with!

We chose Sally as our winning entry because her creator put a great deal of thought into the real dangers of the internet today and how a cyber-hero today, much like our own Labs team at McAfee, would help to protect civilians against the online safety issues that face both children and adults. Sally will make a great mascot for our Cyber Security Exhibition at Bletchley Park.

Well done to Kirstyn who has won a visit to Bletchley Park for her school class, as well as having her design brought to live on the McAfee website!

We're really pleased with how much the children who entered got involved and were engaged with the competition. In total we received over 500 entries from across the UK, which is very encouraging. In a way, all of the competition participants are winners, as they have taken the time to really think about online safety and the threats that may face them online today. I'm a dad, and I know how important education is to helping children understand and navigate the ever-complex threat landscape that awaits us all online. And parents play a key role in this; according to recent research, nearly half of parents search online for information and tips on online safety for children¹. Bletchley Park will become a new and important resource for parents in the ongoing education of online safety, and we hope it will become a first point of call and go-to site for people of all ages looking to learn more about cyber security.

The Cyber Security Exhibition and Computer Learning Zones are open now, so whether you have kids or not, do come and visit Bletchley Park to learn how we're preserving the future of codebreaking and inspiring the next generation of cyber security heroes.

¹ McAfee research conducted with Vision Critical in June 2014.