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Cyber Security Challenge UK launches 24/7 games hub

Every area in the newly-launched Cyphinx virtual skyscraper will contain a new opportunity to test a different cyber skill, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

Cyber Security Challenge UK has unveiled the first virtual world designed solely to find, test and recruit cyber talent. 

Now in its sixth year, the challenge is backed by the Cabinet Office and more than 50 of the UK’s top public, private and academic organisations to promote cyber security as a career.

The challenge has marked another key milestone by launching Cyphinx, a 3D virtual skyscraper that is designed to act as a gateway to a host of cyber security games, competitions and recruitment opportunities.

The first collection of games for Cyphinx, which boasts the world’s first use of the Minecraft world to test cyber skills, has been developed by global technology companies Clearswift and ProCheckUp, and talented cyber hobbyists as young as 12-years-old. 

By combining always-on access to games and competitions that reflect the real-world skills cyber professionals use today, with learning materials and the chance to meet potential employers, Cyphinx is designed to become the UK’s hub of cyber talent recruitment opportunities.  

Despite the growing cyber skills gap and reports that jobs in the sector can pay more than £100k a year, traditional recruitment methods have proved ineffective in the cyber landscape.

According to Cybersecurity Challenge UK, employers have been crying out for new ways to find, test, and appeal to fresh talent.

Cyphinx, hosted by Skyscape Cloud Services, is a new approach to solving that problem and has been developed in conjunction with the Serious Games Institute to look like a high-quality 3D console game.

Candidates can create avatars, enter the Cyphinx skyscraper, interact with other candidates, and engage with potential employers, making it attractive for some of the biggest names in industry to use as a tool for cyber security recruitment.

As they work their way through the games, players’ scores are entered on to leaderboards for cyber security-related disciplines such as risk analysis, forensic analysis, network defence and ethics, giving them the chance to prove and showcase their individual cyber skills and creating a digital CV in the process.

Registration is open to access the Cyphinx, and according to challenge organisers, players are almost guaranteed to cross paths with some of the cyber security industry’s most prominent employers, with supporters the challenge including the Sans Institute, BT, Skyscape Cloud Services, GCHQ, QinetiQ, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Airbus, the National Crime Agency, IRM, Raytheon, PWC, PGI, the Bank of England, National Grid, Her Majesty's Government Communication Centre, Clearswift and ProCheckUp.

Every area in Cyphinx will contain a new opportunity to test a different cyber skill, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This always-on access is a new feature and has been developed in response to feedback from previous candidates who want to play challenge competitions as and when they wish rather than on a strict timetable.

To create the best possible learning and playing environment, Cyber Security Challenge UK has encouraged experienced industry professionals from within its vast network of sponsors, previous contestants, and young cyber enthusiasts aged 12-25 to create cyber security games that blend traditional cyber security ciphers, code-breaking puzzles and contemporary gaming ideas.

The result is a new collection of games that reflect the real-world skills cyber professionals need to demonstrate, and that pay homage to the considerable variety of tools available to test those skills.

Visitors to Cyphinx can now try their hand at stopping the bad guy "insider" causing havoc within an office network, and performing digital forensics on suspect files. But they can also solve cyber puzzles in the world of Minecraft, where codes are hidden in unusual places and need to be found before they can be solved.

Cyber Security Challenge CEO Stephanie Daman said that despite the chronic shortage of cyber professionals, there is a wealth of talent which is still untapped.

“Over the past six years we have made it our mission to find these individuals, using the best, most innovative methods. This is the next logical step to inspire an audience who may not yet even know that cyber is the career for them,” she said.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said the UK has a thriving digital economy, which means there is a huge demand for people to join the cyber security profession.

“Government is committed to encouraging young people to consider cyber security as a career, and this new virtual world, developed by the Cyber Security Challenge, will help ensure the UK develops the cyber experts of the future,” he said.

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