This weekend saw Cyber Security Challenge UK team up with Protection Group International (PGI) to create the ultimate insight into a cyber criminals mind – a life-size recreation of a hacker’s bedroom.
This event formed the first in a series of competitions for Cyber Security Challenge UK, which aims to find the UK’s best cyber security talent. Combining the unique facilities at PGI’s Cyber Academy and its security specialists, which include former UK Government experts and military personnel, the event challenged 24 candidates to solve a crime akin to those encountered by law enforcement and intelligence agencies every day.
The candidates were chosen using the Challenge’s bespoke Play-On-Demand platform, which allows those interested in cyber security to test their skills and knowledge using a pool of games designed by industry experts. Those who scored highest in the qualifying games were invited to compete face-to-face in a day-long simulated event.
The competition, in Bristol, measured contestants’ proficiencies in areas of cyber security that are highly sought after by organisations across the world, including the technical ability to spot critical threats in widely used web applications and databases. With a widening skills gap in the cyber security sector, set to reach 1.5 million vacant jobs worldwide by 2020 (research by (ISC)2), there is a critical need to find and nurture this talent.
The day saw candidates take on the role of investigators brought into a fictional company, Managed VH Solutions, to help investigate a recent data breach which involved raiding a model ‘hacker’s bedroom’ and sweeping for evidence. The teams used investigative skills to uncover the truth behind fictitious media coverage and report the information back to business leads – showcasing the business and soft skills needed in the job as well as technical requirements. Candidates used real forensic techniques and a suite of industry recognised tools to perform advanced system analysis.
These activities were all closely monitored by a team of assessors from PGI and other top cyber security organisations, who judged the candidates on how well they performed tasks according to best practice. The top performers in this event will qualify for the Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass in November, which pitches the top 42 candidates from across the competition against each other, to find this year’s ultimate cyber security defender.
Stephanie Daman, CEO at Cyber Security Challenge UK said: “These events are designed to replicate the industry challenges that investigators face in real life using real tools to tackle simulated threats. We believe that the next generation of cyber talent can only be found by using the most innovative methods and this event stays true to this school of thought. The scenario created for the competition serves not only to highlight how cyber security can offer a great career path to our candidates, but also provides a valuable illustration of the true issues at play. These are now high on the agenda of corporations and individuals alike. Events such as this provide an excellent platform for candidates to showcase both their technical and soft skills both of which are essential in this industry.”
Jim Wheeler, Director of Cyber Operations at PGI said: “Sophisticated training holds the key to preparing the next generation of cyber security experts and we are proud to team up with Cyber Security Challenge UK to form the heart of the career ecosystem for UK cyber security. Together we bring the strength of innovative training methods and a track record of producing and nurturing career development in our own environment. Our own data highlights a major skills gap in security, with 43% of cyber professionals believing they have major knowledge gaps; our involvement with Cyber Security Challenge UK demonstrates our commitment to bridging this gap.”
The winning team included: Dan Galbraith, a 17 year old from Feltham, who earlier this year developed virtual games for the Challenge’s play-on-demand platform; Oliver Gillespie a 22 year old mechanical engineering student at Bath who represented the UK in the European Cyber Security Challenge in October; Oliver Simonett, a 21 year old student from Manchester who, following attendance at a Challenge cyber bootcamp, has co-founded an ethical hacking group at De Montford University; 17 year old Ben Jackson from Bexhill-on-Sea; 33 year old Liam Glanfield from Exeter; 35 year old Mathew Levett from Portsmouth; 21 year old Mohit Gupta from Slough; and 29 year old Patrick Wood from Bournemouth.