NCA Asks Amateur Security Sleuths to Help it Take Down the Flag Day Associates

The NCA's Challenge is in its fourth year of running such competitions, which are aimed at uncovering the best UK amateur security talent and attracting them into the information security profession by way of compelling hypothetical disaster scenarios. This particular challenge, dubbed Opening Lines, is the first competition of the 2014/15 program of online and face-to-face cyber-battles, which will culminate at the 2015 Masterclass next March.

This latest set of competitions sees the introduction of a new enemy, the Flag Day Associates, a set of recurring characters that will underpin the coming year’s challenges across what the NCA called a “gripping storyline.”

The fictitious Flag Day Associates first appeared at the end of the Masterclass awards ceremony in March this year, via a threat video featuring three masked individuals warning of a future cyberattack on the UK. The video was uploaded to YouTube and further 'secret' details embedded within it were uncovered by Challenge candidate Joe Harris, a finalist in the 2013/14 competitions. His analysis of the video file revealed a possible date of the cyberattack, and a reference to the next solar eclipse observable from the UK.

"The fifth Cyber Security Challenge will be the first time we have brought all our activities and competitions under a single scenario that will evolve with twists and turns over the coming year", said Challenge CEO Stephanie Daman, in a statement.

She added, "By creating a mischievous, and above all realistic, nemesis to defend against, the fifth Cyber Security Challenge will be the most eventful and action packed so far, and will help to really excite, inspire and grow our candidate community."

Candidates will be briefed on a cyber-attack situation and asked to provide analysis and report back to the officers at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit.

"The aim of the Opening Lines is to test the skills required to investigate cyber-crime and the individuals or groups responsible for it,” said Challenge developer Adam Kramer. “Whether it’s the creation and spread of malicious software, or attempting to steal banking details, those charged with investigating cybercrime need to have the technical ability, knowledge and understanding to defend the UK and its citizens from cyber-related attacks.”

The highest ranked entrants within Opening Lines will qualify for the first of the Challenge's new set of face-to-face cyber battles. These one-day events will run throughout the remainder of the year and will determine the final line up online defenders chosen to defeat the Flag Day Associates at the Masterclass final next year.

”Following on from the success of the 2013/14 Masterclass, we hope that the new challenges will test those who may want to pursue careers in cybercrime investigations and we look forward to supporting the Cyber Security Challenge over the coming months,” Kramer said.

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