Cyber Security Challenge UK launched


A competition to find the top IT security minds in the UK has been launched today, as the country looks to tackle the skills shortage in the sector.

Cyber Security Challenge UK has kicked off with two competitions that anyone can enter if they head online.

The first is the QinetiQ Network Defence Competition a team event which challenges groups to review and defend a simulated network against attacks from security professionals.

Secondly, the Sans Institute and Sophos Treasure Hunt will be open from September to December and will ask contestants to identify vulnerabilities on a specially created website. Multiple-choice questions will also be pitched to participants on some of the security holes.

Baroness Neville-Jones, minister for security, was present at the launch event at University College London and told delegates this is "a competition with a purpose".

She warned that if the UK wants to have the trust of outside companies and attract foreign investment, then it "needs a really secure cyber platform".

"Our problem is that we have a talented but small pool of cyber security individuals and professionals there aren't enough of them," Baroness Neville-Jones added.

Top participants from each of the challenges will be taken to a Masterclass event to compete against each other to become the UK Cyber Security Champion.

The Masterclass, which is being designed by HP Labs and EADS Defence and Security, will challenge contestants on their wider expertise, including strategic, technical and interpersonal skills, as they face similar threats that cyber security professionals have to cope with in their day jobs.

To entice the most astute cyber security individuals, a number of prizes are on offer, including bursaries for university courses, one of which is for 3,300 funding towards an MSc Electronics and Security course at Queen's University in Belfast.

Placements at notable security companies are also on offer, with the chance to hone skills at the Detica Cyber Security Academy or on a Sans Institute training course.

Judy Baker, a director of Cyber Security Challenge UK and the main organiser of the competition, said the range of prizes had to be appealing to people at different stages of their career, from students to people already working in the industry.

"We need such a variety of skills if we are going to make this [UK cyber security] work effectively," Baker added.

"If you're good, there is a job for you out there."

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.