Estonia’s first cyber defence competition Cybernut (Estonian: Küberpähkel), which was aimed at secondary school students and organised by the Information Technology Foundation for Education, was won by Johannes Kadak, a final-year student at Miina Härma Gymnasium. He was one of several Tartu students who excelled in the competition.

The competition had two rounds. The first was web-based and tested the theoretical knowledge of the competitors. The top 25 competitors moved on to the second and final round, which took place on 1 June at the Estonian Information Technology College. The competitors had to solve practical problems in the final round: for example, they had to work with malware and find unencrypted data from web traffic.

“Estonia’s modern digital lifestyle is largely based on e-services, and more and more IT specialists are needed in the cyber world, where cyber-crimes and cyber-attacks are a growing trend,” said Cybernut project manager Johannes Tammekänd. “The competition’s an effective way of raising young people’s awareness and competence in regard to cyber safety.” The level of competitors was high – some completed their tasks in half the given time and needed extra tasks, Tammekänd explained.

Many of those who made it to the second round were from Tartu. The winner was also from Tartu: first place went to Johannes Kadak, a student from Miina Härma Gymnasium. Winning the competition did not come as a surprise to Kadak, since he has been working with information technology for a long time and intends to acquire higher education in IT. “IT’s easy – it’s been a hobby of mine for a long time and I know which end’s up,” he said.

Second place went to Andres Jõgi and third place to Gregor Eesmaa, both from Jaan Poska Gymnasium. One basic school student participated in the final round – Reio Opromei, a 7th-grade student from Kadrina High School. He was also the youngest participant in the competition. “I feel really proud – I haven’t taken part in any competitions like this before,” Opromei revealed. “The tasks were difficult. In the first round there wasn’t anything complicated, but the second round was harder.”

The Cybernut competition was organised by the Information Technology Foundation for Education in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence and the Estonian Information Technology College. The Ministry of Defence awarded a special ‘Cyber Defence Training Day’ prize to the top five participants. This will provide the students with a unique opportunity to visit the most important cyber defence centres in the country, such as the Ministry of Defence, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, the Estonian Cyber Defence League and the Estonian Information System Authority.

In Estonia, applied higher education in cyber defence will be able to be acquired from autumn 2015, as this is when the Estonian Information Technology College is launching a new curriculum, Cyber Security Engineering, which will be taught in English. Admission documents are being accepted from 11 March until 6 July. The new programme offers broad-based higher education in the field of cyber security by integrating software development and information system administration. Cyber defence can be studied in Estonia in the joint Master’s programme on cyber security offered by Tallinn University of Technology and the University of Tartu since 2010.