SCOTLAND has become the first country in Europe to offer qualifications in cyber security as part of the school curriculum.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) have developed the new awards to help pupils identify, understand and manage the host of online threats organisations and individuals face on a daily basis.

Qualifications director Dr Gill Stewart said the courses would cover data security, digital forensics and ethical hacking, would also pave the way for those seeking a career in cyber security.

She said: "With the number of devices connected to the internet set to exceed 50 billion in the next five years and the rate of activity and volume of information available online only set to increase, opportunities for malicious intent are ever growing.

"The challenge facing governments, businesses and individuals in being secure online couldn’t be greater and to face these challenges more people need to be trained, recruited and working in cyber security roles.

"The awards have been developed in partnership with industry experts to capture the interest of learners and provide an excellent starting point."

Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Youth Employment, said: "Education and skills in this area is one of the core aspects of developing a cyber-resilient nation and meeting the national and international demand for cyber security specialists."

Detective Inspector Eamonn Keane from Police Scotland, added: "The nature of crime is changing with nearly all types of criminality now having a digital element."