Cyber enthusiasts compete to thwart attack on fictional shipping company

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The winning team: Team Daman, named after Stephanie Daman, the late Cyber Security Challenge UK CEO

Britain’s top cyber enthusiasts met in London earlier this week to take part in a three-day simulation to find the best cyber security amateur in the UK. The Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass is the  country’s premier, government-backed cyber skills competition aimed at discovering the country’s best cyber security talent and is the finale of a year-long series of online and face-to-face qualifying competitions.

The three-day event  saw the top 42 brightest amateur talents from thousands of entrants investigate a data breach on a fictional shipping company, fend off live cyber-attacks and build a courtroom case against a corrupt Chief Operating Officer.  Mo Rahman, a 22-year-old computer science student came out on top, taking the individual prize while Team Daman, named aptly after the late Cyber Security Challenge UK CEO and true champion for education in cyber security Stephanie Daman, took the honours as overall team winners.

Set in Trinity House, the home of UK shipping navigation, the contestants competed in front of experts from the cyber security industry, who assessed and ranked contestants’ performances against real life job requirements, including technical proficiencies and soft skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication. The contestants were also required to present a legal case in a mock courtroom in front of prosecution and defence barristers, as well as a judge.

The challenge works with some of the top organisations in the cyber security industry to design and implement its programme of competitions. This helps to add realism to the challenges, as well as ensuring that all of the skills tested and taught are those that companies are looking to find and recruit. Over the years, 50% of the candidates that have competed in the Challenge’s Masterclass and face-to-face rounds have gone on into jobs in the industry. 

Nigel Harrison, Acting CEO, Cyber Security Challenge UK said: “This year’s Masterclass has tested a more diverse range of skills than ever before to truly reflect the scale of modern cyber security. Not only were contestants tested on their technical proficiencies, they were tasked with building a legal case against a suspected cybercriminal, something is increasingly seen in court rooms today.  Our sponsors design competitions for us, to provide gifted individuals with a safe environment to showcase their skills in front of prospective employers. If you have an inquisitive mind and an interest in cyber security, we encourage you to sign up today and you could be at the forefront of securing our digital world.”

Winner Mo Rahman said: “Competitions such as this equip you to deal with a huge number of challenges and provide you with a direct route to industry. The experience I have gained over the last couple of days is unrivalled and simply can’t be obtained outside of these real world settings. Working with industry experts has given me the confidence to enter the industry and pursue a career in an area that I have developed a true passion for.”

The competition began on Sunday night, where the contestants were split into teams and were tasked to work out the location and retrieve a USB stick hidden in London. As they travelled through the city, they were tailed by operatives from the National Crime Agency, who attempted to intercept them and test their abilities to keep their confidential information hidden from prying eyes.

On Sunday, the contestants played the role of security consultants, brought in to investigate a suspected insider threat at fictitious shipping company Fast Freight Limited. They soon discovered that a newly appointed COO was to blame for the missing files and that he had been working with cybercrime group Scorpius – a crime syndicate notorious for attacking organisations across the world and extorting them for money. Across the two days, they defended the company from cyber-attacks, conducted forensic analysis and helped 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.

Enter 2018’s series of competitions and qualify for Masterclass, by registering with Challenge: http://cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk/