HAMPSHIRE teens will be trained up to combat hackers and cybercrime this summer.

They are being offered free cybersecurity courses provided by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The CyberFirst courses are coordinated by charity Smallpeice and are designed to give 14 to 17-year-olds hands-on learning on how everyday technology works, and how to protect the digital world.

Alongside developing teamwork and leadership skills the teenagers will learn about spotting cyber threats, constructing secure networks, and handling data securely.

The five-day residential courses, which take place in August, also offer the chance for teens to experience university campus living.

Chief executive of Smallpeice, Dr Kevin Stenson, said: “The cyber security sector is set to be one of the fastest growing in the coming years, and it will rely on people from all backgrounds and abilities to contribute to finding the solutions to our cyber challenges.

According to research by international cybersecurity training firm SANS, there will be approximately 24 billion internet-connected devices installed across the world by the turn of 2020.

As more businesses and homes in Hampshire will rely on internet-based platforms and services, the importance of maintaining cybersecurity to avoid being victims of crime or cyber-vandalism will grow.

Inspired and led by the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of GCHQ, the CyberFirst courses help people explore their passion for tech and computing by introducing them to the world of cybersecurity.

Chris Ensor, NCSC deputy director for cyber skills and growth, said: “CyberFirst is a bold and innovative programme aimed at supporting and developing the UK’s cyber security talent and helping to address the cyber skills gap.

“Millennials are arguably the most naturally adept at using technology. Most have used web-enabled devices from a very early age and have an instinctive understanding of how to use them but not necessarily how they work and how to protect them.

“These courses will help prepare them for a possible career in cybersecurity and a role in making Britain the safest place to live and work online.”According to Smallpeice the charity gives young people everything they need to fuel their passion for engineering and works with parents, teachers, universities and corporate partners.

For more information call 01926 333 200.