Britain’s best cyber enthusiasts compete to thwart fictional attack

Today, 42 of the UK’s most promising amateur cyber sleuths will compete in an ultra-realistic cyber defence simulation which will see them protect a fictional shipping company from live cyber attacks.

The competition, which is a culmination of a year of qualifying rounds, is known as the Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass. The event will take place in an industrial-style simulated Security Operating Centre (SOC) in the home of British Shipping, Trinity House in London.

It has been developed this year by global telecoms firm BT, in partnership with world-leading aeronautical company Airbus, leading networking and cyber security firm Cisco and the Cyber Technology Institute at De Montfort University. The competition is also supported by Checkpoint, Darktrace, 4 Pump Court, the National Crime Agency and the Bank of England.

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The competition will see candidates take on the role of security consultants, brought in to investigate a suspected insider threat at fictitious shipping company Fast Freight Limited.

They soon discover that a newly appointed COO is to blame for the missing files and that he has been working with cybercrime group Scorpius – a ‘notorious’ crime syndicate attacking organisations across the world and extorting them for money.

Across the two-days challenges will defend the company from cyber-attacks, conduct forensic analysis and help to build a case against the corrupt COO, all using top-quality tools from the industry consortium’s portfolio and a unique platform created by the team at De Montfort University’s Cyber Technology Institute.

Caroline Noakes, Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency said: “We face a shortage of cyber security professionals, not just here in the UK but worldwide. To address this, we are doing more than ever before to inspire people to pursue a career in cyber security. We will continue to work in partnership with organisations like the Cyber Security Challenge UK to make Britain secure, confident and prosperous in the digital world.”

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At the end of the two days, each team will have to present evidence to a mock court of law, featuring real barristers, to ensure that all information has been obtained lawfully and that enough of a case has been brought to bring action upon the individual; a situation often faced by those in the cyber security industry where a crime has been committed.

The Masterclass is the grand finale of a year’s worth of online and face-to-face qualifying rounds, which has seen thousands of cyber amateurs compete against each other in qualifying competitions created by the Challenge’s sponsor community. This year the team will also be joined by six of the top talents from Cyber Security Challenge Singapore, to help build collaborative working networks between the two countries and showcase each nation’s talents.

Nigel Harrison, acting CEO of Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “This event is designed to mirror challenges faced by leading industry experts, in order to identify the UK’s best talent. This year’s consortium has done an amazing job in constructing a truly engaging competition which the contestants can get stuck into. Traditional recruitment methods don’t work in the world of cyber security – often the most talented individuals don’t stand out on paper and events like this allow us to put the best talent in the country in front of many of the leading organisations in the country that are seeking more cyber security skilled workers.”

The final 42 British challenges represent the best amateur talent the country has to offer and will be assessed by government and industry experts on the same aptitudes sought by businesses today.

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These include technical proficiencies such as forensic analysis, incident response and live network monitoring, as well as soft skills including communication, leadership and management.

The cyber security industry is facing a critical skills shortage, with a projected shortfall of 1.8 million cyber security workers by 2022, according to a study by (ISC)². At a time when cyber attacks are increasing in frequency and severity, the Challenge works with its sponsors like BT to bring more talented individuals, for whom there are no traditional pathways into the cyber security sector, to help defend the country’s economic prosperity. This aligns to the National Cyber Security Strategy, with the Challenge programme forming part of the Government’s £1.9 billion investment to significantly transform the UK’s cyber security

Over half of Masterclass finalists over the past six years have entered jobs in the industry. The best teams in this year’s Masterclass competition will win thousands of pounds of career-enabling prizes and the ultimate winner will be crowned the UK’s best cyber security talent of 2017.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.

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