Candidates at a Cyber Security Challenge event working out how to hack Raspberry Pis to fly drones around a building

Amateur cyber-security experts to go head-to-head

The cream of the UK’s amateur cyber security talent will go head-to-head at a competition to determine a champion.

Experts from BT, GCHQ and the National Crime Agency (NCA) will work together over the coming months to design the final of next year’s Cyber Security Challenge UK, a nationwide competition programme designed to bring more talented people into the understaffed cyber security profession.

The 2014 Masterclass final will take place at a secret location in London on 14 and 15 March next year and will test 42 cyber defenders, identified during 10 months of virtual and face-to-face battles, with a final role-playing scenario made up of technical challenges and more business-focused risk analysis and policy tasks.

Finalists will be asked to show off their skills in a simulated work environment by solving the sort of problems cyber security professionals encounter every day. They will be required to demonstrate technical, interpersonal and decision-making skills.

Jonathan Hoyle, GCHQ's director general for Government and Industry Cyber Security, said: "The beauty of the Cyber Security Challenge UK is that the competitors include a real mix of self-taught talent who bring an unconventional and innovative approach to the challenges. That innovation is really important to the UK in tackling cyber threats today and in the future.

“Through GCHQ's involvement, I have had the enormous pleasure of presenting some of the awards and welcoming some of the Challenge winners and finalists to GCHQ, as visitors, on year-long placements and in some cases as fully-fledged members of GCHQ's cyber security mission."

The Cyber Security Challenge UK began in 2010 as three competitions run by a small group of supporters from industry, government and academia to address the growing skills gap in the UK cyber security profession.

With the sponsors support the Challenge has handed out more than £200,000 of career-enabling prizes to over 100 of the UK’s leading amateur cyber defenders, a number of whom have since moved into the profession.

Dr Bob Nowill, BT’s cyber director, said: “We are delighted to be the lead sponsor and host of the Masterclass finals. As an organisation, we see these types of initiatives as key to encouraging people to develop their cyber skills and build a career in this really interesting area of security.”

Places at the Masterclass are still up for grabs and open to anyone of British nationality not currently working as a cyber-security professional.

To qualify, candidates must register with the Challenge and prove their talent by playing one or more of the upcoming virtual qualifier competitions developed by cyber experts from the likes of QinetiQ and Dtex Systems.

Lee Miles, deputy head of the National Cyber Crime Unit, within the NCA, said: “The National Crime Agency is delighted to be involved in the Cyber Security Challenge, which is a unique and exciting opportunity to bring together some of the UK’s most talented amateurs in cyber security. These sorts of initiatives are vital for attracting talented people to consider careers in security and in law enforcement.”

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