42 of the UK’s most promising amateur cyber sleuths will compete in an ultra-realistic cyber defence simulation which will see them protect a fictional shipping company from live cyber-attacks.
The competition, which is a culmination of a year of qualifying rounds, is known as the Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass. The event will take place in an industrial-style simulated Security Operating Centre (SOC) in the home of British Shipping, Trinity House in London. It has been developed this year by global telecoms firm BT, in partnership with world-leading aeronautical company Airbus, leading networking and cyber security firm Cisco and the Cyber Technology Institute at De Montfort University. The competition is also supported by Checkpoint, Darktrace, 4 Pump Court, the National Crime Agency and the Bank of England.
The competition will see candidates take on the role of security consultants, brought in to investigate a suspected insider threat at fictitious shipping company Fast Freight Limited. They soon discover that a newly appointed COO is to blame for the missing files and that he has been working with cybercrime group Scorpius – a ‘notorious’ crime syndicate attacking organisations across the world and extorting them for money. Across the two-days challenges will defend the company from cyber-attacks, conduct forensic analysis and help to build a case against the corrupt COO, all using top-quality tools from the industry consortium’s portfolio and a unique platform created by the team at De Montfort University’s Cyber Technology Institute.
Caroline Noakes, Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency said: “We face a shortage of cyber security professionals, not just here in the UK but worldwide. To address this, we are doing more than ever before to inspire people to pursue a career in cyber security. We will continue to work in partnership with organisations like the Cyber Security Challenge UK to make Britain secure, confident and prosperous in the digital world.”
At the end of the two days, each team will have to present evidence to a mock court of law, featuring real barristers, to ensure that all information has been obtained lawfully and that enough of a case has been brought to bring action upon the individual; a situation often faced by those in the cyber security industry where a crime has been committed.
The Masterclass is the grand finale of a year’s worth of online and face-to-face qualifying rounds, which has seen thousands of cyber amateurs compete against each other in qualifying competitions created by the Challenge’s sponsor community. This year the team will also be joined by six of the top talents from Cyber Security Challenge Singapore, to help build collaborative working networks between the two countries and showcase each nation’s talents.
Nigel Harrison, acting CEO of Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “This event is designed to mirror challenges faced by leading industry experts, in order to identify the UK’s best talent. This year’s consortium has done an amazing job in constructing a truly engaging competition which the contestants can get stuck into. Traditional recruitment methods don’t work in the world of cyber security – often the most talented individuals don’t stand out on paper and events like this allow us to put the best talent in the country in front of many of the leading organisations in the country that are seeking more cyber security skilled workers.”
The final 42 British challenges represent the best amateur talent the country has to offer and will be assessed by government and industry experts on the same aptitudes sought by businesses today. These include technical proficiencies such as forensic analysis, incident response and live network monitoring, as well as soft skills including communication, leadership and management.
The cyber security industry is facing a critical skills shortage, with a projected shortfall of 1.8 million cyber security workers by 2022, according to a study by (ISC)². At a time when cyber-attacks are increasing in frequency and severity, the Challenge works with its sponsors like BT to bring more talented individuals, for whom there are no traditional pathways into the cyber security sector, to help defend the country’s economic prosperity. This aligns to the National Cyber Security Strategy, with the Challenge programme forming part of the Government’s £1.9 billion investment to significantly transform the UK’s cyber security
Over half of Masterclass finalists over the past six years have entered jobs in the industry. The best teams in this year’s Masterclass competition will win thousands of pounds of career-enabling prizes and the ultimate winner will be crowned the UK’s best cyber security talent of 2017.
Quotes from this year’s Masterclass consortium
Mark Hughes, CEO, BT Security, said: “This year’s Masterclass is very special for us at BT as we are not only supporting this exciting competition, but have been very much involved in the design of its final. It is through programmes like the Cyber Security Challenge that we can raise the profile of the industry and find tomorrow’s cyber experts that will help us close the skills gap in the industry. BT Security protects some of the best-known brands around the world as well as the critical national infrastructure in the UK. Only by attracting the best talent can we stay ahead and keep the nation safe from cyber threat.”
Kevin Jones, head of Cyber Security Architecture & Innovation, Airbus said: “Cyber security is of increasing importance not just to companies like Airbus, but also society as a whole. In order to be able to combat the ever-growing cyber threat, we must be able to attract people to the sector who have the skills and competencies required. Events like the Cyber Security Challenge UK plays a key role in showcasing the varied and challenging careers that are available within the cyber sector and provide a safe and representative environment within which the future cyber professionals can learn and develop the right skills and ethics.”
Scot Gardner, Chief Executive, Cisco UK & Ireland, said: “Whilst the attack that the candidates face may be fictional, the challenges are very real. Every industry is confronted with tackling security throughout their business. Whether through education and trust in their people, with the technology they use or the processes that they have in place. We’re delighted that our technology is able to help these individuals experience the environment as if it were a real-world scenario; detecting, evaluating and remediating the attacks underway as they progress throughout the event. Supporting the Cyber industry as it seeks ways to increase the availability of skilled professionals is very close to Cisco’s heart and we have just made a major commitment to the industry to ensure significantly increased numbers of individuals are suitably trained as threats continue to evolve.”
Professor Helge Janicke, Director of the Cyber Technology Institute and Head of the School of Computer Science and Informatics, De Montfort University said: “We were delighted to be invited to be part of the Consortium developing this year’s Masterclass final. Working alongside BT, Airbus and the other Consortium partners underlines our ethos of academia and industry working together to provide the full benefits to all of a safe, secure and resilient cyberspace. As a sponsor of Cyber Security Challenge UK, we are also committed to nurturing future talent for the cyber security industry. In light of this, we are also pleased to be able to donate a fully-paid scholarship for our MSc in Cyber Security to one of the Masterclass winners.”
Dave Palmer, Director of Technology at Darktrace said: “Addressing the cyber skills shortage is instrumental to strengthening the nation’s cyber resilience. We find that the best cyber security professionals don’t always come from the most obvious of backgrounds, but from a wide range of areas and disciplines – from STEM subjects to humanities and arts. We are proud to support the Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass in the search for the next generation of cyber security talent.”
Paul Edmunds, NCCU Head of Technical Engineering at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “The skills tested at the Cyber Security Challenge Masterclass have never been more vital to the UK. The NCA is a proud supporter of Cyber Security Challenge UK and those who qualified for this year’s Masterclass have done astoundingly well. They now have the best possible platform to showcase their talents and to learn more how they can contribute to the UK’s cyber security.”
Neal Semikin, Head of IT Security at the Bank of England said: “The Bank of England is pleased to be involved in the Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass for the third year running. Being a part of the Challenge enables us to get out and meet talented cyber enthusiasts who will be the new faces of the industry in the years to come. With ever changing and increasing threats, it’s more important than ever that those who will be keeping our organisations safe from potential threats and vulnerabilities in the future are given the opportunities to learn and hone their skills now.”
Matthew Lavy, Barrister at 4 Pump Court said: “If the corrupt COO is to be convicted for his crimes, it is not going to be enough for the competitors to work out what he did and how. They are also going to have to persuade the Court that their forensic work can be trusted – that the evidence is clean, that the chain of custody is secure, and that the logic of their analysis is sound. To do this they will have to explain the evidence they have and what it shows in language that a judge and jury can understand. I and my colleagues at 4 Pump Court are delighted to be helping put this year’s competitors through their paces by testing whether they have what it takes to give expert evidence in Court and play their part in ensuring not only that the cyber-attack stopped but also that justice is done.”