Cyber Security Challenge uptake beats expectations

Cyber crime

Uptake for the first ever Cyber Security Challenge UK has surpassed organisers' expectations as almost 4,000 have signed up so far.

Designed to address the IT security skills shortage in the UK, the competition was launched in July by Baroness Neville-Jones, minister for security, alongside sponsors including Sophos, QinetiQ and the Sans Institute.

Furthermore, since the challenge launched, the number of UK entrants into the US Department for Defense Cyber Crime Centre Digital Forensics Challenge has increased more than six-fold.

Participants in the UK-based events have been encouraged to enroll in the US contest as well.

The early signs have proved encouraging for organisers, who claimed many more are likely to register soon, even though one of the challenges - the QinetiQ Network Defence Competition has begun and the Sophos-sponsored Treasure Hunt is due to start this month.

Judy Baker, director of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, said it was difficult to gauge how positive the results were in lieu of a precedent, but registration numbers have been higher than predicted.

"We are trying to cover the full range of subjects in cyber security," Baker told IT PRO, admitting the contest had not managed to achieve this yet.

She revealed ideas were already being discussed for next year's contest, including plans to create mobile and cloud security challenges.

"We are still open to proposals," Baker added. "We hope that we will be able to create an even more exciting range of challenges next year."

Prizes for the competition's top performers include placements at the Detica Cyber Security Academy or on a Sans Institute training course, as well as bursaries for university courses, including a 3,300 grant towards an MSc Electronics and Security course at Queen's University in Belfast.

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.