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Civilian cyber training camps

The Cyber Security Challenge UK, a nationwide set of competitions to find people that can protect the UK from online attacks, has unveiled details of the UK’s first civilian cyber security training camps. These will run across England and Scotland at the end of August. They are aimed at those interested in a career in cyber security who have yet to secure a role in the industry. The camps will offer talented amateurs an opportunity to learn about cyber defence from some of the UK’s largest cyber defence businesses and develop their skills for a career in the industry.

Anyone interested in testing their own cyber security skills can do so from home by registering with the Challenge here –

The English camp at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham will see candidates take on the role of a cyber-team deployed overseas to provide security assistance to a military-supported relief effort. The scenario follows an environmental disaster off the coast of a fictitious Indian Ocean Island, Sans Serriffe, caused by a mysterious crash involving an oil tanker. As part of the deployment an independent command and control facility is being set up which the candidates will need to secure from the threat of pirates and organised criminal gangs who may have even been involved in the sinking of the tanker.

Meanwhile, the Scottish camp at Glasgow Caledonian University will involve a Dragon’s Den-style competition where candidates will be asked to create a security product and set up a business. Competitors will also visit Scotland’s Police Training College at Tulliallan for a digital forensics eCrime day run by Police Scotland and the National Crime Agency, where they will be expected to recover and analyse mobile devices for police investigations before presenting their evidence in a courtroom scenario.

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 to better represent the variety of skills demanded; and is backed by 75 sponsors from across government, industry and academia.

The cyber camps are a more recent addition to the Challenge competition, sitting alongside a variety of virtual competitions and providing a first opportunity for candidates to test their skills. This year’s Cyber Camps follow a pilot run last year at Lancaster University and will offer those who take part a chance to qualify for the grand final of the Challenge’s core programme of competitions – the Masterclass. It is here that the UK’s next Cyber Security Champion will be crowned.

Stephanie Daman, CEO, Cyber Security Challenge UK, says: “This is the first time the UK has offered amateur cyber defenders the chance to see what it is really like to work as a professional in this sector. The pilot camp we ran last year in Lancaster was so warmly received by everyone involved, professionals and candidates alike, that formalising the programme this year into two fully fledged Cyber Camps was an easy decision. The camps present a unique opportunity to work with talented amateurs and show them how exciting the cyber security profession can be. I know that all those who join us at either camp will have a great time and learn so much about a sector crying out for more people with their skills.”

Both camps will run from Wednesday, August 28, until Sunday, September 1. Activities will include:

Defence Academy, Shrivenham – All tasks will be built around a scenario involving the mysterious crash of an oil tanker near an island in the Indian Ocean, the causes of which are unclear. PwC and the Information Security Forum will start by taking candidates through a governance and planning exercise. Candidates will then learn to perform ‘technical sweeps’ looking for cyber implants, bugs and listening devices through a session with C3IA, an information assurance firm. This will form part of a round-robin of technical tasks that includes a military cyber-security exercise created by the Land Information Assurance Group who will also run a second challenge involving providing support to a friendly administration’s IT systems to assure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of their information. Candidates will also be treated to evening dinners and industry talks from Serco and Esoteric.

Glasgow Caledonian University – Cyber camp attendees will start off with an initial business-related cyber challenge and Dragon’s Den-style innovation contest run by Informatics Ventures and its backers, Scottish Enterprise, who aim to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Scottish informatics and computer science. Candidates will also take part in a digital forensics – eCrime day run by the Scottish Police and the new National Crime Agency who will create a simulated crimes-scene in which candidates will have to recover and analyse mobile devices for information that will assist a police investigation. Assistance will be provided by security heads at mobile forensics experts Micro Systemation and BlackBerry. As well as analysing the evidence, candidates will also be taught by the National Crime Agency how to present their findings as an expert witness in a trial scenario within a mock-court session in a real court-room at the Scottish Police Training College. Candidates will also be treated to an evening dinner and industry talks from RBS.

Both four-day events will culminate in a camp-versus-camp online game of attack and defence through the popular SANS Netwars platform, used to train cyber security professionals in government departments and major corporations around the world.

What they say

Graham Beaver, Director of Space & National Security, Serco: “Serco is proud to be participating in the Cyber Security Challenge to bring together the best in Cyber Security talent and skills. We understand the importance of cyber security and the risk it poses to businesses, and by supporting the Challenge, we hope to recognise and recruit the leading specialists in this field. Cyber security is integral to Serco’s global business and as a skill, it has become instrumental, both at technical and managerial level and so the ability to recruit from a pool of the best talent in this field is crucial to our business.”

Tony McDowell, Managing Director, Encription Ltd: “Encription Limited is involved with the UK Cyber Challenge both as a Sponsor and as a designer of challenges. Our philosophy has always been, where possible, to recruit trainees almost regardless of academic qualifications and previous experience; and we have been proven to be correct. Having access to candidates via the Cyber Security Challenge’s Cyber Camp gives Encription a whole new source of potential employees. Our risk and theirs is reduced because we have an opportunity to see them in action and talk to them prior to going further.”

Ben Emslie, Senior Manager, Risk Assurance Services, PwC: “It’s important to PwC that we continue to support the Cyber Security Challenge and the development of the talented people it fosters. This Cyber Camp provides PwC with the opportunity to share our expertise and experience with the Challenge’s candidates and further develop their knowledge. It is also this audience that builds the future capability of PwC as we continue to grow our cyber security business, and therefore use the challenge events to identify the PwC stars of the future.”

Charles White, CEO, IRM: “Safeguarding information online is a priority for the UK. Whether it be to protect our economy, to bolster our national defence or to enable a secure society where individuals are safe in the knowledge that they can enjoy the benefits that technology brings without putting their personal data at risk – we need talent in the Information Security industry. This crucial requirement for an increase in Information Security professionals is why IRM is so delighted to be involved with such an innovative and engaging approach to attracting new talent. Businesses that deliver Information Security are by their very nature critical to national infrastructure. Therefore, as an industry we must be proactive in developing the next generation of cyber security experts by recognising and nurturing talent.”

And Sonia Freed, Business Development and Marketing Director for AEP Networks says: “AEP is very pleased to be supporting the Cyber Security Challenge to raise awareness of the importance of cyber security and increasing the opportunities in the cyber security market. The aim of our team challenge is to assess candidate’s cyber skills by asking them to create a secure end-to-end network, to protect classified or high value commercial information in transit across the internet, utilising existing solutions currently used in the defence and public sectors.”


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