An innovative simulated cyber battle on 17 August saw six candidates move to the next round in the Cyber Security Challenge UK, which is aimed at attracting new talent to the IT security industry.
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Amateur cyber defenders Luke Granger Brown, Will Shackleton, George Hafiz, Matthew Steer, Ronnie Smyth, and Steven De Mora became the first to book their places in the challenge final early next year.
The Sophos Wireless Infrastructure challenge was designed to find those with the best skills to protect the UK from cyber crime and involved drones controlled with Raspberry Pi single-board computers.
Although the 25 amateur cyber defenders worked in teams of five, each competitor was assessed individually.
Teams followed a series of clues by exploiting common security vulnerabilities found in networked devices such as iPads or smartphones. This revealed parts of a code that, when completed, allowed the teams access to one final network.
The team then had to seize the network, which was controlled by "bad guys", secure all the vulnerabilities, and then fly a Raspberry Pi-powered drone on a victory lap.
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The Cyber Security Challenge UK is now calling on the software developer and coding community to propose new ways to use the Raspberry Pi computer to test the cyber security skills of candidates.
The winning idea will be built with support of the facilities and experts at Sophos and used in a future competition. Other prizes include Raspberry Pi development kits, controllable devices, and tablet computers.
According to James Lyne, global head of security research at Sophos, the creative, technology-loving community that has sprung up around the Raspberry Pi should be rich with potential cyber defenders.
“The Pi technology is so versatile, and we are excited to see what these guys can come up with and look forward to showing the winner around our labs here at Sophos to turn it into a real device,” he said.
The Sophos Wireless Challenge was the latest attempt by the Cyber Security Challenge UK to address a lack of skilled workers entering the profession that is hampering the UK's fight against cyber crime.
It forms one of a series of national competitions, which aim to find talented people to fill the increasing number of job opportunities in cyber security, defending the UK and keeping us all safe online.
Currently in its fourth set of competitions, the challenge has handed out more than £200,000 of career-enabling prizes and watched many of its leading players move into their first jobs in the industry.