GCHQ to test UK citizens' ability to prevent cyber attacks

Cyber security

UK surveillance service GCHQ has teamed up with the Cyber Security Challenge (CSC) to launch a virtual game, dubbed Astute Explorer, to encourage more people to consider a career in information security.

In the game, which is named after GCHQ's automated code scanning tool, players are tasked with deciphering a code to locate vulnerabilities, and explain how hackers could exploit these to carry out a cyber attack against fictitious aerospace and engineering company Ebell Technologies.

Stephanie Daman, CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge, said: "Astute Explorer is an ingenious game from GCHQ which will not only provide an enjoyable challenge but will test skills that are in high demand by employers in this sector."

The game is part of a series of initiatives that Cyber Security Challenge has rolled out over the past year, and follows on from a task set by security vendor Sophos over the weekend, which asked the public to analyse a hard drive obtained from faux hacking group the Flag Day Associates.

As a result of that task, participants were made aware of a cyber threat by the Flag Day Associates against Ebell, and the shape that potential attack could take is what Astute Explorer is designed to ascertain.

This is the fourth year CSC has run a national competition like this, designed to draw talented people into the cyber security profession. GCHQ is one of CSC's platinum sponsors and one of the three UK-based intelligence agencies.

Participants who show the most promise will be invited to report for duty at secret locations scattered around the UK, investigating face-to-face in teams.

Successful candidates will take on the Flag Day Associates hacker group at the Masterclass final next year. Anyone living in the UK is invited to participate.

Those interested in taking part can register to play here.