NCA seeks cyber defenders of tomorrow

Updated 16 March 2014

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has joined the UK's most promising amateur cyber defenders as they compete to defend the City of London from a simulated cyber attack, as part of the Cyber Security Challenge Masterclass.

Launched by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, the realistic simulation has been developed by cyber security experts from BT, GCHQ, the NCA, Juniper Networks and Lockheed Martin. This year's masterclass champion was William Shackleton.

Stephanie Daman, the Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: 

"The Masterclass is the biggest, most realistic and exciting cyber defence simulation we have ever run. The combination of government organisations, multinational technology and defence companies and one of the largest telecommunication companies in the world working together to secure the future of the profession makes this a really special occasion."

Over six months of planning has gone into the competition by the Masterclass sponsors, while the challenge has been running virtual and face-to-face qualifying competitions for the past 12 months to identify the 42 finalists capable of taking on the cyber battle.

Kevin Williams, Partnership Engagement and National Cyber Crime Capabilities Manager at the NCA, said: 

"As the UK's lead on tackling cyber crime, the NCA needs to be in the minds of those wishing to pursue a career within this sector. 

"Events such as the Cyber Security Challenge provide a fantastic opportunity for us to, not only test the skills of those taking part but also provide them with pathways which allow them to exploit their sought-after cyber skills. 

"As we modernise our workforce by welcoming new people and new ideas into the NCA, we want roles at the agency to be the career of choice for people wanting a future in tackling cyber crime and, more broadly, in law enforcement." 

At the start of the competition, those taking part were given the scenario, which outlined a cyber attack on London's financial district that was making online banking platforms inaccessible, new stock market floatations impossible and compromising BACS systems. The finalists were also briefed by GCHQ and the NCA on their intelligence on the emerging ransomware threat they will be tackling.

Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister with responsibility for the UK Cyber Security Strategy said:

"To get ahead in the global race we need more people with the skills and abilities to protect businesses and meet the challenges of the future. The Cyber Security Challenge encourages talented people into cyber security careers, bringing together industry, security services and law enforcement to develop cyber battle competitions". 

The Cyber Security Challenge UK is a set of nationwide competitions to bring more talented people into the cyber security profession and address a critical skills shortage that affects government bodies, businesses and citizens alike. It began in 2010 as three competitions run by a small group of supporters from industry, government and academia to address the growing skills gap in the UK cyber security profession.

Now in its fourth year, the challenge has grown its range of competitions, incorporated a schools specific challenge, and is now backed by over 75 sponsors from across government, industry and academia. With sponsor support the challenge has handed out over £200,000 of career enabling prizes to over 100 of the UK’s leading amateur cyber defenders.

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