Amateur cyber defenders could be recruited after mock cyber-attack

A group of amateur cyber defenders have to investigate and fend off a simulated cyber terrorist plot and could lead to them gaining permanent jobs in the industry.

The largest and most realistic cyber-attack to date run by the Cyber Security Challenge UK reached its final stage and on Friday night one amateur will be named the new winner.

A total of 42 promising participants – out of a pool of thousands – will have to wrestle back control of naval gun systems taken over by a fictitious terrorist group known as the Flag Day Associates.

Francis Maude, security minister, said: “This competition is the biggest and best yet and events like this play an important role in helping provide the next generation of cyber professionals.”

The final has been developed by a team of cyber experts led by BT and includes GCHQ, the National Crime Agency, Lockheed Martin, Airbus Group, PGI, C3IA and Palo Alto Networks.

Now in its fifth year running, the challenge aims to inject more people into the industry and address the shortage of skills the government, businesses and citizens face.

“Both government and business need skilled and talented people to feed the demand for better cyber security in the UK,” Maude said.

Finalists will be battling against the clock to find out how the hackers broke into a network that controls the ship's guns and, within which, cyber experts implanted realistic vulnerabilities for them to find.

They will have to regain control of systems before it is too late, while searching for similar 'holes' within the IT system of a simulated water treatment and manufacturing facility to ensure the terrorist group isn't able to infiltrate these as well.

CERT-UK, the UK’s national computer emergency response team, will be working the participants through the scenario to make it as life-like as possible.

“The combination of industry and government expertise involved in the development of this final is unprecedented and the amount of planning that has gone into making this as close as possible to an incident is staggering,” Stephanie Daman, CEO at the Cyber Security Challenge said.

Registrations for the next set of competitions are open now for anyone interested in gauging their cyber security potential.

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