BT, GCHQ and NCA collaborate to find the next generation of UK cyber defenders

  • Cyber experts collaborate to design the 2014 Masterclass final for the Cyber Security Challenge UK
  • The final will test the skills of 42 of the UK’s most talented amateur cyber defenders to protect the UK from hackers and computer viruses
  • Two day face-to-face battle in March 2014 will identify the UK’s new Cyber Security Champion
  • Those interested in booking their place must register with the Challenge and prove their skills by playing a virtual qualifier competition -https://cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk/registration/ 

A unique collaboration announced today between BT, GCHQ and the National Crime Agency (NCA) will test the cream of the UK’s amateur cyber security talent to find those capable of keeping us safe online. 

Experts from each organisation will work together over the coming months to design the final of this year’s Cyber Security Challenge UK, a nationwide competition programme to bring more talented people into the cyber security profession and address a critical skills shortage that affects government bodies, businesses and citizens alike. 

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office with responsibility for the UK Cyber Security Strategy, said: “We are very pleased to support The Cyber Security Challenge through our National Cyber Security Programme - it provides an innovative approach to identifying talent for the cyber security sector, ensuring we have a new cadre of cyber security professionals ready to make the UK one of the safest places to do business online.” 

Dr Bob Nowill, BT’s cyber director, said: “We are delighted to be the lead sponsor and host of the Masterclass finals. As an organisation, we see these types of initiatives as key to encouraging people to develop their cyber skills and build a career in this really interesting area of security.” 

The Masterclass represents the grand finale of the latest Challenge Competition Programme and will see the new Cyber Security Challenge UK champion crowned. The face-to-face cyber battle will take place at a secret location in London across Friday 14thand Saturday 15th March. 

It will test 42 talented cyber defenders, identified during 10 months of virtual and face-to-face battles with a final top-secret scenario and role playing based competition, comprising technical challenges and more business-focused risk analysis and policy tasks. 

Finalists will be asked to show off their skills in a simulated work environment by solving the sort of problems cyber security professionals encounter every day. They will be required to demonstrate technical, interpersonal and decision making skills. 

Jonathan Hoyle, GCHQ's Director General for Government & Industry Cyber Security, said: "The beauty of the Cyber Security Challenge UK is that the competitors include a real mix of self-taught talent who bring an unconventional and innovative approach to the challenges. That innovation is really important to the UK in tackling cyber threats today and in the future. 

“Through GCHQ's involvement, I have had the enormous pleasure of presenting some of the awards and welcoming some of the Challenge winners and finalists to GCHQ, as visitors, on year-long placements and in some cases as fully-fledged members of GCHQ's cyber security mission." 

The Cyber Security Challenge UK 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 the sponsors support the Challenge has handed out more than £200,000 of career enabling prizes to over 100 of the UK’s leading amateur cyber defenders, a number of whom have since moved into the profession. 
Lee Miles, Deputy Head of the National Cyber Crime Unit, within the NCA, said: 

“The National Crime Agency is delighted to be involved in the Cyber Security Challenge, which is a unique and exciting opportunity to bring together some of the UK’s most talented amateurs in cyber security. These sorts of initiatives are vital for attracting talented people to consider careers in security and in law enforcement.” 

Many of the places at the Masterclass are still up for grabs and open to anyone of British nationality not currently working as a cyber-security professional. To qualify, candidates must register with the Challenge and prove their talent by playing one or more of the upcoming virtual qualifier competitions developed by cyber experts from the likes of QinetiQ and Dtex Systems. 

Stephanie Daman, CEO, Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “To have such a diverse and high profile combination of organisations working together to test the next generation of cyber security professionals suggests that the 2014 Masterclass is going to be our most exciting yet. 

“With the involvement of government organisations entrusted with protecting the most sensitive information in the country, and BT, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, this year’s finalists will face a Masterclass final that will excite and challenge in equal measure. There are still a few opportunities to book your place. If you would like the opportunity to pit your wits against the UK’s best cyber security experts, why not register with us today!” 

For more information please contact our media team: 
0845 680 1866 

Notes to editors 
Cyber Security Challenge UK runs a series of national inspirational competitions aimed at attracting talented people into the profession and informing them about cyber security careers and learning opportunities. Now in its fourth year it is running an ambitious programme of competitions and activities designed to spread the word about why cyber security is such a fulfilling and varied career and help talented people get their first cyber security jobs. It is sponsored by some of the UK’s most prestigious public, private and academic organisations and is making a notable difference to the career prospects of those with the talents and aptitude to become cyber security professionals. 


About GCHQ 

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is one of the three UK intelligence agencies and forms a crucial part of the UK’s national intelligence and security machinery. 
The National Security Strategy sets out the challenges of a changing and uncertain world and places cyber attack in the top tier of risks, alongside international terrorism, a major industrial accident or natural disaster, and international military crisis. GCHQ, in concert with Security Service (also known as MI5) and the Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) plays a key role across all of these areas and more. Our work drives the UK Government’s response to world events and enables strategic goals overseas. 

For more information see: http://www.gchq.gov.uk 

About National Crime Agency 
The National Crime Agency is a new crime-fighting agency with national and international reach and the mandate and powers to work in partnership with other law enforcement organisations to bring the full weight of the law to bear. It tackles serious and organised crime, stregthens our borders, fights fraud and cyber crime, and protects children and young people from sexual abuse and exploitation. 

The NCA provides leadership in these areas through the organised crime, border policing, economic crime and CEOP commands, the National Cyber Crime Unit and specialist capability teams. 

The NCA works closely with partners to deliver operational results. It has an international role to cut serious and organised crime impacting on the UK through a network of liaison officers. 

For more information, please see www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk