Nearly 4,000 people have registered so far to take part in the 2010 Cyber Security Challenge UK launched in late...
The challenge, which will become an annual event, is a series of online and face-to-face competitions aimed at identifying and fostering cyber security talent.
The competitions have been put together by security, education and government organisations in response to the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals.
"The level of interest in the challenge just goes to show why we need this type of inspirational and exciting initiative," said Stewart Room, a challenge board member and a partner at law firm FieldFisherWaterhouse.
The security industry complains there are too few high-calibre professionals to fill the jobs required to secure the UK's online presence, he said.
"We have already identified nearly 4,000 potential candidates and we expect many more through the doors," said Stewart Room.
The three initial competitions are made up of the SANS and Sophos Treasure Hunt, the QinetiQ Network Defence competition, and the US Department for Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) Digital Forensics Challenge.
The Network Defence competition and the Treasure Hunt are both run in two phases. The first is a virtual competition and the second a face-to-face round for the very best participants who get through the virtual tasks.
The virtual phase of the Network Defence Competition is already underway. Participants received their competition materials in September.
"The Challenge is giving me fantastic experience and is something really strong to put on my CV," said Andrew Woods, a participant from Darlington College.
The virtual phase of the Treasure Hunt requires only around two hours to complete and is being run as five groups of 600 participants over five days in October.
A second set of virtual competitions for Treasure Hunt will be held during November. Registrations for these are still open.
"The response to Treasure Hunt in the UK has been phenomenal," said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute.
"It's a real demonstration that people of all ages are starting to get excited about cyber security and recognise their potential to be part of this critical industry," he said
The UK challenge has also provided a boost for UK entries into the DC3 Digital Forensics Competition.
"Since the challenge launched, the number of UK teams competing is up by more than 600%," said Andy Clark, Head of Forensics at competition sponsor Detica.
"This is an important indication that the UK has the desire, ambition and skills to extend its global reputation in cyber security," he said.