The National Crime Agency (NCA) has launched competition to tackle cyber crime.
Would-be cyber warriors taking part in Cyber Security Challenge UK can demonstrate their digital skills to investigate suspicious emails linked to a mysterious cyber crime group.
The first competition of the 2014/15 programme, Opening Lines, aims to uncover the best UK amateur security talent.
Those competing will face the Flag Day Associates, a fictitious cyber criminal organisation, in the first part of the competition.
The group will feature in what organisers promise will be a gripping storyline, culminating in the 2015 Masterclass final in March 2015.
The Flag Day Associates first appeared at the end of the Masterclass awards ceremony in March this year, via a video, threatening a future cyber attack on the UK.
Analysis of the video file revealed a possible date of the cyber attack with a reference to the next solar eclipse observable from the UK.
The Cyber Security Challenge UK is a set of nationwide competitions to bring more talented people into the cyber security profession and address a critical skills shortage.
It 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.
The challenge has since grown its range of competitions, incorporated a schools-specific challenge, and is now backed by more than 75 sponsors from across government, industry and academia.
With sponsor support, the challenge has handed out over £200,000 of career-enabling prizes to more than 100 of the UK’s leading amateur cyber defenders.
"The fifth Cyber Security Challenge will be the first time we have brought all our activities and competitions under a single scenario that will evolve with twists and turns over the coming year," said Stephanie Daman, chief executive of the challenge.
"By creating a mischievous, and above all realistic, nemesis to defend against, the fifth Cyber Security Challenge will be the most eventful and action packed so far, and will help to really excite, inspire and grow our candidate community,” she said.
Candidates will be briefed on a cyber attack situation and asked to provide analysis and report back to the officers at the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit.
The NCA’s Adam Kramer, who developed the challenge, said: "The aim of the Opening Lines competition is to test the skills required to investigate cyber crime and the individuals or groups responsible for it.
“Whether it is the creation and spread of malicious software, or attempting to steal banking details, those charged with investigating cyber crime need to have the technical ability, knowledge and understanding to defend the UK and its citizens from cyber related attacks,” he said.
”Following on from the success of the 2013/14 Masterclass, we hope that the new challenges will test those who may want to pursue careers in cyber crime investigations and we look forward to supporting the Cyber Security Challenge over the coming months”.
The highest-ranked entrants after the Opening Lines competition will qualify for the first of the challenge's new set of face-to-face cyber battles.
These one-day events will run throughout the remainder of the year and will determine the final line up online defenders chosen to defeat the Flag Day Associates at the Masterclass final.
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