To teach secondary students about cryptography, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the United Kingdom has released an Android app which is “fun, free and educational”.
The Cryptoy app will help children understand basic techniques on encryption and create encoded messages. It does not requires any special permission to access confidential information on Android devices.
The British Government hopes that Cryptoy will help them find the next generation of cyber-spies.
“[Cryptoy is a] creative solution in the hunt for expertise, but with a 21st century spin”, said Francis Maude who is the British Minister for cabinet office.
GCHQ, which is considered the British equivalent of the United States’s National Security Agency, says that an iOS version of the app will be available next year in 2015. As well as revising the history of cryptography, the app covers both the theory and practice of the subject. It targets Key Stage 4 students.
The idea for the app was first developed as a test project for the Cheltenham Science Festival by industrial placement students from GCHQ. However, due to growing interest from teachers, GCHQ was persuaded to make it publicly available.
Examples of cryptography used in the Android app are from an “earlier era”, as stated by the spy agency, but relevant to today’s techniques.
“Building maths and cyber skills in the younger generation is essential for maintaining the cyber security of the UK and growing a vibrant digital economy,” said GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan.
Hannigan described the spy app as a “colourful, interactive way” for students and teachers to explore the complex world of cryptography.
The app is now available to download and compatible with versions of Android 4.1 and above.