The UK plans to recruit future cyber security warriors through a series of national public competitions due to start towards the end of 2010.
The Cyber Security Challenge, backed by a consortium of UK commercial, academic and public sector organisations, will be run along similar lines as the US Cyber Challenge launched in 2009.
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The competition challenges are being designed by industry leaders using the latest technology to test the nation's cyber security skills and identify the UK's future cyber security professionals.
Research released at Infosecurity Europe 2010 highlights a growing skills gap and the need to recruit talented people to the profession, said Judy Baker, director of Cyber Security Challenge UK.
The research commissioned from the Sans Institute found that 90% of respondents from the security industry are finding it difficult to recruit cyber security professionals.
Roles in the fields of strategy, policy guidance, risk management, incident response and threat management were the most difficult to find candidates, the respondents said.
Nearly 60% said they believed the number of cyber security jobs to cope with attacks will increase in coming years.
"We have to improve the quality and quantity of talented people entering the profession to accommodate the escalating requirements," said Baker.
"We need to excite, inspire and stimulate fresh interest in a career as a cyber security specialist, and the competitions we are developing are aimed at doing that," she said.
The first round of competitions to be delivered online is scheduled to take place towards the end of 2010 and will be open to all, with some aimed specifically at school leavers and undergraduates.
The starter competitions will test skills in network defence, forensics, and identifying security weaknesses in website coding.
The second round of competitions early in 2011 will include face-to-face challenges to test the vital interpersonal skills of entrants.
Prizes to be awarded at a ceremony in London are likely to include opportunities for specialised training and work experience.
The details of the competitions and prizes are still being finalised, but organisers are working closely with their US counterparts to benefit from their experiences and insights.
"Our community spans hundreds of organisations across academia, industry and government, which all have a vested interest in building a greater pool of cyber security talent," said Tony Dyhouse, director of the UK Cyber Security Programme for the Digital Systems Knowledge Transfer Network.
"The Cyber Security Challenge UK is a perfect demonstration of what is possible when the industry comes together to solve a problem that affects everyone," he said.