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Cyber Security Challenge UK Announces First Finalists

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Eleven competitors from the UK Cyber Security Challenge have progressed to the Masterclass final.

Cyber Security Challenge UK has announced the first finalists of this year’s competition following the latest challenge, the Sophos Malware Hunt.

Just 11 competitors from a field of 30 progressed to the Masterclass final following the challenge, the first of three exercises in which 86 entrants will compete to become Cyber Security champion.

Nasty code

The Sophos Malware Hunt exposed competitors to some of the most malicious criminal code in the Sophos vaults. For this round, contestants did not need an advanced knowledge of the code, but were only required to have an analytical mind and show attention to detail.

“The competition we set candidates today tested their skills in identifying malware, preventing data theft and understanding how to avert future incidents on devices, all skills needed to succeed in an environment like SophosLabs or indeed any business,” commented James Lynne, director of technology strategy at Sophos.

Tim Pullen, a software engineer from Cheltenham finished top of the pile and is guaranteed a share of the spoils on offer.

“Signing up for the challenge was really for a bit of fun and an opportunity to learn a bit more about what the professionals do for a living,” said Pullen. “I can’t wait to see what the challenge throws at us next.”

The winners have made it through to the grand final, the HP and Cassidian run Masterclass, which will require them to demonstrate the skills demonstrated in previous rounds and apply them in a business setting.

Uncovering talent

All finalists receive a year’s subscription to the National Skills Academy for IT, which provides resources to advance their careers, while the winner of the current challenge, and the 25 other challenges, will receive prizes such as such as membership of professional bodies, training courses, university bursaries and paid internships.

“It’s clear the UK has very skilled individuals in the field of cyber space, but many are unaware they have such abilities and know little about the exciting job opportunities available,” said Judy Baker, director of Cyber Security Challenge UK. The Challenge is bringing the talent to the fore and giving our community of candidates the impetus to go out and investigate these careers with a new found confidence that they have the fundamental skills employers want.”

This year’s competition, launched in June, is financed by a combination of government funds and private sector sponsorship and it has continued to gain support from within the industry. Contestants for the face-to-face round were selected from a number of online competitions, including the Sophos Linux Forensics Challenge, which came to an end in December. However Channon Powell, who won the SAIC Penetration Test, dropped out of the process when he was awarded a full-time  job in the industry. The winner of last year’s inaugural competition was Dan Summers, a postman from Wakefield.