FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 10, 2018 

Colorado to partner in GirlsGoCyberStart, an innovative cybersecurity program for high school girls

DENVER, Colo.— Gov. Hickenlooper and the State’s Chief Information Security Officer Deborah Blyth have joined with the SANS Institute to help educate and inspire the next generation of female cybersecurity professionals. Through the GirlsGoCyberStart program, Colorado’s high school girls in grades 9 through 12, or a homeschool equivalent, are invited to discover their talents in cybersecurity and learn about the field through a no-cost, online game of fun technical challenges.

In 2017, the SANS Institute piloted CyberStart, a program designed to inspire the next generation of cybersecurity professionals while identifying talented youth. The summer 2017 State CyberStart program enabled nearly 3,500 students in seven states to discover and demonstrate their aptitude for cybersecurity. Only five percent of the participating students were young women. Undeterred, SANS has launched GirlsGoCyberStart, a new program designed specifically to attract high school girls.

“Getting girls interested in this rewarding field now will help us meet the future demand for these critical positions,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “A more diverse workforce also drives innovative solutions that will keep our state and nation better protected from cyber attacks.”

“Colorado is proud to be part of this new program. We are encouraging our high school girls to register to participate in this exceptional opportunity,” said Deborah Blyth, Colorado’s Chief Information Security Officer. “I'm thrilled that Colorado was invited to participate in this! It’s a great opportunity to discover girls with hidden cybersecurity talent. We desperately need more women in this field!”

The goal of the GirlsGoCyberStart is to attract tens of thousands of high school girls so the nation can identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.

“The nation desperately needs more highly-skilled cyber professionals, and we have new evidence that CyberStart radically improves the quality and preparation of people entering the cybersecurity field,” SANS Director of Research Alan Paller said. “The two best cyber intrusion analysts I have ever met were named Vicki and Judy, but women are woefully underrepresented in the technical side of cybersecurity.”

Participating students do not need to have information technology or cybersecurity knowledge or experience; all that is required is a computer and an internet connection. Girls may play alone or in teams of two to four.

Colorado girls will be participating alongside students from across the country. The girls or teams who solve the most problems within the designated time will have the opportunity to win computers and other “techy” prizes as well as a trip, along with a parent, to the 2018 Women in CyberSecurity Conference. Additionally, the winning girls’ schools will receive a cash prize.

Registration will begin on Jan. 29 and end on Feb. 16, 2018. The first 10,000 young women in high school who have registered by then will play the game online from Feb. 20 through Feb. 25.

Answers to other questions, a description of the game, and a sample challenge may be found on the GirlsGoCyberStart website at


About the Governor’s Office of Information Technology

The Colorado Governor's Office of Information Technology (OIT) is responsible for the operation and delivery of information and communications technology services and innovation across the Executive Branch agencies in the State of Colorado. OIT drives innovative technology solutions, provides quality service, and supports the agencies whose missions are so critical to serving Coloradans. We do this by overseeing technology initiatives at the state level, recommending strategies and maximizing efficiencies of service delivery in a cost-effective manner through the application of enterprise technology solutions. Our enterprise approach also enables the agile delivery of new applications to state agencies that improve citizen access to government services while increasing accountability and transparency.

Find OIT online at, on the #StateofCO IT blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Media Contact: Brandi Simmons, Chief Communications Officer & PIO