Cyber Security Challenge Prepares for Most Ambitious Final Ever

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Information security experts from GCHQ, the National Crime Agency, Lockheed Martin, Airbus and others have teamed up to design an online terrorist attack simulation which will form the Cyber Security Challenge UK’s 2015 Masterclass final.

The two-day final in March next year will task candidates with preventing attacks launched by fictional cyber-terrorist group Flag Day Associates aimed at causing physical harm to London’s citizens.

The group has already been introduced to competitors via an online video, and will be a recurring presence in the various online and face-to-face competitions which will comprise the 2014/15 Challenge.

The final stage of the Challenge will see the 42 finalists working in teams to solve technical problems, as well as dealing with business-focused risk and policy challenges, according to the Cyber Security Challenge UK.

They will be tested on technical, interpersonal and decision-making skills with the idea to see how they cope in a high pressure, real world scenario with a constantly evolving and fast-moving series of threats.

Prizes for the winners include university bursaries, professional accreditation, access to industry events and professional internships.

Already, over 18,000 keen amateurs have signed up to test their cyber-security skills in the competition, now in its fourth year, and designed to help address the growing skills shortages in the industry.

There are still places available for the Masterclass level to any UK resident not working as an information security professional. To qualify, they’ll have to successfully complete one or more of the forthcoming virtual qualifier competitions.

“This is the largest collection of cyber expertise we have ever pulled together to put our candidates through their paces,” said Cyber Security Challenge UK CEO, Stephanie Daman.

“With an emphasis on realistic operational environments and demands, this year’s finalists will face a Masterclass that will excite and challenge in equal measure.”

James Lyne, director of technology strategy at Challenge founding sponsor Sophos, argued that the year-long storyline has added a greater realism to the competition.

"Cyber Security Challenge is a unique competition for raising awareness of both cyber-security as a potential career and of the problems that the industry encounters when trying to recruit talent to fight the cyber-criminals," he told Infosecurity.

"We’ve certainly seen previous competitors go on to make successful careers in cyber-security. We just need more."

Security consultant Brian Honan added that Challenge has helped raise the profile of cyber-security outside the industry.

"It is well documented that we are facing a skills shortage in the industry and the Cyber Security Challenge is a great opportunity for individuals to 'dip their toes' in the security field and see if it is something that would attract them to it full time," he told Infosecurity.

"It is also a great opportunity for the industry to not only identify potential talented individuals but also other industry sectors that may prove to be good recruiting grounds."

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