Cambridge Student Named UK Cyber Security Challenge Champ

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

UK’s hunt for digital defenders ends for another year, with a future Facebook intern taking the top Cyber Security Challenge prize

A 19-year-old student from the University of Cambridge, and a future Facebook intern, has been named the victor of this year’s UK Cyber Security Challenge.

Will Shackleton took the top prize after the final Masterclass event, which took place over the weekend at the Cabinet War Rooms.

TechWeekEurope visited the contestants on Friday, when they were dealing with a mock attack on systems across the UK. They had to determine what the attack constituted in terms of malware and source, whilst presenting their findings cogently to a board, which included members of BT and the National Crime Agency.

Cyber security skills hunt

CyberMasterclass_winner_WillShakleton_Team

Shackleton took the top prize after a year of online and face-to-face contests, beating off stiff competition from more than 3,000 entrants and 41 finalists.

“It’s a big surprise and a huge honour. I never considered a career in cyber security before taking part in the Challenge but playing their competitions and meeting the industry leaders has shown me there are exciting jobs which need filling,” said Shackleton.

“I’m convinced security is an area I want to pursue and I can’t wait to take what I have learnt from the Challenge into my university studies and summer internship, and eventually into a job where I can do this stuff for real.”

He received a choice of 90 “career-enhancing prizes” worth over £100,000, including training, university courses and access to major industry events.

The NCA, which helped design the final Masterclass challenge, is particularly interested in the competition, which is hoping to fill the skills gap in the UK information security industry. Andy Archibald, the chief of the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), a division within the NCA, last week noted the need to acquire more of those skills for UK law enforcement.

Kevin Williams, head of partnership engagement at the NCCU, told TechWeek the group was hoping the Challenge would help them find personnel to fill both defensive and offensive roles, in which software is used to carry out surveillance on suspects.

“We are very much looking at the skills we can bring into government to respond to the threat,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to bring different individuals to the organisation who can bring new ideas and help us with innovation on a technical basis.”

The next Challenge event is open for applications from Monday.

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