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Eight More Challengers Reach The Cyber-Security Finals

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The search for the next cyber-security champion is rapidly heading to its conclusion on 10 March

Eight more competitors have advanced to the final round of Cyber Security Challenge UK (CSC), after a weekend of network defending at the QinetiQ facility in Malvern.

More than 4,000 participants registered to compete in CSC over £30,000 worth of career-enabling prizes. Only 30 will make it to the final showdown at HP labs in Bristol, scheduled for 10 March.

Battling cyberwarriors

The Cyber Security Challenge is a series of national games and competitions run each year, designed to help find dormant talent and promote the role of IT security specialists. It was introduced as a response to the significant shortage of skilled professionals in the UK’s cyber-security sector.

Following the virtual first round, 16 CSC candidates entered QinetiQ’s high-security Malvern facility to compete in a weekend of face-to-face cyber-battles. By Sunday evening, eight had secured their place in this year’s final, the CSC Masterclass on 10 March, having proven their ability to protect IT networks from attacks inspired by real-world cyber-crimes.

“We were thrown into real-life attack scenarios, which do not happen every day. It was good fun,” said one of the finalists, Anthony Cox, an IT professional from Cambridge. “It adds weight to decisions you make at work. It also affects recommendations you make in the real world, by considering cyber-security aspects.”

The QinetiQ Network Defence Final is one of three, second-round competitions that see 86 candidates whittled down to just 30, all vying for the title of Cyber Security Champion. It will culminate in the Masterclass final, run by HP and Cassidian.

CSC is currently in its second year, with last year’s winner being Dan Summers, a postman from Wakefield. This year’s entrants include sixth-form students, undergraduates, postgraduates, unemployed and those employed outside the cyber security industry, all hoping to win a range of prizes such as scholarships, training courses, and paid internships.

“The attacks encountered by the candidates this weekend are typical of what small businesses and home users face. For many candidates, security is an interest or hobby they have pursued on their own. Today we are testing not only their technical skills, but also their ability to work in a team, understanding the strengths and weakness of their colleagues. It’s this more-rounded skills set that employers value most,” said Tony Dyhouse, principal security consultant on Advanced Cyber Threat at QinetiQ.