Austria has won the first European Cyber Security Challenge, followed by Germany and Switzerland.
Six teams of young codebreakers aged between 14 and 30 competed in Switzerland this week to solve a series of cyber-security exercises including network analysis, digital forensics and cryptography.
The UK team, sponsored by Raytheon and IRM, finished in the bottom half together with Spain and Romania.
The challenge provides young people with interest in cyber-security with the opportunity to test their skills ahead of entering the industry.
“Getting into the cyber-security industry isn’t always easy and that is why these competitions are great as they highlight and encourage previously unknown talent,” said Mark Rampton, a technical consultant for IRM. “At the beginning I felt that I wasn’t technical enough to enter the industry. However, the more people I met and networked with, and challenges I attempted, made me realise that cyber-security was something I could do.”
The codebreakers competed in two categories based on their age. The junior category included people between 14 and 20 years of age. The seniors were aged 21 to 30.
The UK team included a 17 year-old maths whizz who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 50 seconds, a 15 year-old who is currently teaching coding to his teachers, a 29 year old who only became involved in cyber-security this year after a career in finance, and the UK's Cyber Security Champion 2015.
The European competition has been developed in response to the growing popularity of cyber-security challenges across the continent. These challenges have proven to be a great source of talent and recruitment for companies across the industry, including government organisations, banks and financial institutions, energy suppliers and communications providers.
"The Cyber Security Challenge is important as it is the gateway into the industry,” said Paul Crichard, head of cyber research for Raytheon. “There is an industry shortage of suitable skills and the Challenge helps us find those that have the potential or already have those skills.”
In the UK, the Cyber Security Challenge has been running for the past six years with this year’s final to be held on 20 November.