Government opens competition for cyber security whizz kids

The Rt Hon Baroness Neville-Jones has officially launched a competition to find the next generation of UK cyber security specialists.

The Minister for Security said the national competition will put entrants through a series of online and face-to-face competitions to assess their abilities with prizes including university bursaries as well as places on training courses.

In a statement Baroness Neville-Jones, said: “Defending all of our interests in cyberspace is a relatively small cadre of talented and highly skilled public sector and private sector cyber security professionals.”

She added that she hoped the competition would encourage people to take up careers in the sector, which according to the Open University, a partner in the challenge, was “lacking” as previous enthusiasts were now reaching their 50s and 60s.

The government could do with a new wave of cyber geniuses on hand considering the amount of security fails it has faced over the past few years. In 2007 two consecutive breaches were found in the security fn the MTAS computer system – used by 32,000 junior doctors to apply for training posts. At the time the site was pulled due to fears information could be obtained.

And more recently, two NHS trusts had their wrists slapped by the ICO after it investigated two security breaches.

To be in with a chance of winning, contestants must firstly complete a virtual competition in the form of a treasure hunt that will involve looking for flaws on a dummy website and answering questions about what was found.

They must then endure a face to face challenge in teams taking over a simulated network and defending it against a series of attacks carried out by security professionals.

The winners of these initial competitions will go forward to the UK Masterclass where they will work with others to defend a different simulated network. It’s hardly Gladiators but considering the prioritising of budget, getting some real deft hands in on cyber security couldn’t hurt,