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Computer science student wins 2017 UK Cyber Security Challenge

Cyber attack simulation challenge sees 22-year-old computer science student crowned UK amateur cyber security champion

After a three-day cyber attack simulation, 22-year-old computer science student Mo Rahman came out on top in the 2017 Cyber Security Challenge UK, setting himself apart from more than 40 other contestants.

Team Daman, named after the late Cyber Security Challenge UK CEO Stephanie Daman, took the honours as overall team winners. The team included Caroline Haigh, David B, Harrison Speight, Joshua Green, Justin Rowley and Thomas Steven Brook.

The team, which included two members under the age of 20, was judged as the most outstanding group in the Cyber Security Challenge UK’s Masterclass competition, the country’s government-backed cyber skills contest to find the country’s best cyber security talent, in the face of a serious skills shortage.

Masterclass, the finale of a year-long series of online and face-to-face qualifying competitions – saw the top 42 brightest amateur talents from thousands of entrants investigate a data breach on a fictional shipping company, fend off live cyber attacks and build a courtroom case against a corrupt chief operating officer.

This year’s competition was created by BT in partnership with Airbus and Cisco, with support from the National Crime Agency (NCA), the Bank of England, Checkpoint, De Montfort University and 4PumpCourt.

Set in Trinity House, the home of UK shipping navigation, the contestants competed in front of experts from the cyber security industry, who assessed and ranked their performances against real-life job requirements, including technical proficiencies and soft skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication.

Contestants were split into teams and were tasked to work out the location of, and retrieve, a USB stick hidden in London. They were then called upon to play the role of security consultants, brought in to investigate a suspected insider threat at a fictitious shipping company, where the newly appointed COO was to blame for the missing files and was working with a cyber crime group.

Across two days, the contestants defended the company against cyber attacks, conducted forensic analysis and helped to build and present a legal case against the corrupt COO in a mock courtroom.

The competition is designed to be as realistic as possible and to ensure that all the skills tested and taught are those that companies are looking to find in recruits. According to the completion organisers, half the candidates who have reached the Masterclass and face-to-face rounds in the past have gone on to jobs in the cyber security industry.

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The winners of the competition receive career-enhancing prizes, including industry training, university courses, and access to strategic industry events provided by Challenge sponsors, which include 7Safe PA Consulting, Blackhat Europe, Bsides London, Cocidius Defence, CompTIA, Crest, De Montfort University, e2e Assure, IAAC, IISP, ISC2, NCC Group, Royal Holloway University and the SANS Institute.

Nigel Harrison, acting CEO for Cyber Security Challenge UK, said this year’s final tested a more diverse range of skills than ever before, reflecting the scale of modern cyber security.

“Not only were contestants tested on their technical proficiencies, they were tasked with building a legal case against a suspected cyber criminal, something that is increasingly seen in courtrooms today,” he said.

“Our sponsors design competitions for us to provide gifted individuals with a safe environment to showcase their skills in front of prospective employers. If you have an inquisitive mind and an interest in cyber security, we encourage you to sign up today and you could be at the forefront of securing our digital world.”

Individual winner Mo Rahman said the competition provides the next generation of cyber enthusiasts with the chance to team up with like-minded people and helps create a network of talent.

“Competitions such as this equip you to deal with a huge number of challenges and provide you with a direct route to industry,” he said. “Cyber Security Challenge UK was a principal factor for my interest in cyber security and in kick-starting my career.

“The experience I have gained over the last couple of days is unrivalled and simply can’t be obtained outside these real-world settings. Working with industry experts has given me the confidence to enter the industry and pursue a career in an area I have developed a true passion for.”

Now the 2017 competition is over, the 2018 event is open for registration. A host of competitions are available to play using a new play-on-demand system, which allows access to games at any time. Anyone interested can sign up to take part.

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