Cyber Security Challenge finalists unveiled


Two teams have made it through to the final stage of the Cyber Security Challenge UK after coming out on top in network security competitions this weekend.

The first face-to-face tests of the challenge were held on Saturday and Sunday, as contestants from a wide range of backgrounds came together to put their skills to the test.

A team going by the name of PEBKAC ended up winning the medium networks challenge of the QinetiQ Network Defence Competition, whilst Team Glitch took the number one spot in the small networks category.

Both will be heading to the Masterclass event in Bristol in March.

We caught up with a member of PEBKAC, 28-year-old student Tony Shannon, who told IT PRO the contest had been "incredibly close."

"It hasn't really sunk in. The only way I can describe it is working a whole week in two days," Shannon said.

"When you're under that kind of pressure, you figure out what you can and can't do. Here, anything goes, they can throw anything at you."

PEBKAC came up against a wide range of tasks during the day, from ensuring a manager's laptop was secure before he headed out of the office, to integrating Cisco technology.

The latter was something PEBKAC found a little trickier than other tasks, largely because the team hadn't had significant experience in the area.

"It showed we did have weaknesses in vendor knowledge," Shannon said, adding he will be brushing up on Cisco skills as well as studying some more forensics before the Masterclass.

Overall, Shannon said the entire weekend had been a big success, even though it was a tiring two days.

"There was just so much to do in such a short time," he added.

To be young

Cyber Security Challenge UK contestants have come from a diverse selection of backgrounds and winners of the small network challenge, Team Glitch, were all still at school.

Stuart Rennie, a 17-year-old sixth form student, spoke to IT PRO the day before he took part in the face-to-face challenge.

Even though his parents have worked in IT, Rennie was never convinced he was going to enter the industry.

"I never knew much about security. Before this my parents generally told me to stay away from IT," he said.

"But coming here, it is so different. It is something I am considering now."

Later this month, the third and final feeder competition of the Cyber Security Challenge, the Sophos and SANS Institute Treasure Hunt, will be held.

A total of 25 individuals will go up against each other for places in the Masterclass.

Meanwhile, registrations for the UK Category of the DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge set by the US Department for Defence have been opened.

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.