united kingdom

GCHQ - Balancing the Defence

Type: Single player

Player count: 150

Playing dates: Monday 1st – Monday 8th October 2012

Registration is now closed.


This game puts you in charge of managing the risk to a Government department’s computer network. You will analyse the network, looking for vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit, and apply a range of defensive controls. Some will be technical in nature, but others will be based in the security policies you establish. Your budget is limited and you will have to make tough decisions about which controls you can apply to get value for money and reduce the risk to your network.

Risk assessment can be challenging and poses questions such as: “What am I trying to protect? Who poses a threat to me and what are they capable of? What methods will they use and which are likely to be successful? What can I do to make their task more difficult? Are there some risks I will have to accept? What impact will my changes have on the business?”

This game is testing your ability to blend technical concerns with the objectives of the business, recognise ineffective or overly restrictive risk controls, make priority calls, and react to unforeseen circumstances. Some technical knowledge is useful, but not essential to complete the game. A broad understanding of the purpose of technologies such as encryption, firewalls, VPNs and antivirus will be expected and any more specific knowledge will either be provided with the game or can be gleaned from internet research. The focus will be on your analysis and pragmatic decision making skills.

The game will be open for one week, and be aware that you will receive further information as the week progresses, so please keep an eye out during the competition. The time taken to complete the game has no bearing on your score, but you must respond before the end of the week, to have your entry marked. You will retrieve your briefing at the start of the week, and submit your answers in the form of a document containing your answers and reasoning


  • Open to individuals aged 16 or over
  • This challenge is not open to individuals who are actively working in cyber security

Winners will be invited to attend the Everything Everywhere Face-to-Face Challenge on Saturday 24th November 2012 to be held at Banbury in Oxfordshire. Winners selected at this event will then be invited to attend our Masterclass and Awards weekend on 9 – 10 March 2013.