• Cyber Security Challenge UK collaborates with NCA and the Metropolitan Police in ongoing effort to both rehabilitate young cyber crime offenders and prevent technically skilled youth from committing cyber crimes
  • This is the fifth in a nationwide series of Intervention Days, developed for the UK Cyber Prevent response led by the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit
  • Designed for parents, guardians and young people, the programme combines technical exercises, industry insight and ex-hacktivist speakers to help guide young people into using their skills both ethically and legally to secure rewarding roles in industry.
  • Hosted by BT at BT Tower in London, the agenda includes NCC Group, BT Security Team and Grillatech

On 23 March, Cyber Security Challenge UK joined forces once again with the National Crime Agency (NCA) to deliver the next in their UK-wide series of Intervention Days, this time in partnership with the London Metropolitan Police. Hosted by BT, the programme welcomed both young people who are highly technically skilled and those who have already received low level interventions including cease and desist orders or cautions and invited parents and guardians to attend a dedicated agenda designed to help them in supporting young people to positively progress in their lives.

Both tracks showcase the growing number of opportunities to put cyber skills to lawful use in lucrative careers and include technical exercises, sessions on social responsibilities online as well as an introduction to the Computer Misuse Act 1990. Delegates heard from an ex-hacktivist who having realised their skills and interests could be used both ethically and legally in a professional environment now works as a Cyber Security SOC Director.

Detective Sergeant Natalie Cabot from the Metropolitan Police’s Central Specialist Crime Command said: “Cyber crime is a serious criminal offence and a conviction can adversely affect a young person’s future prospects, with sentences of up to life imprisonment for the most serious offences. Despite common misconceptions, it is not a victimless crime. It can have a devastating effect on individuals, businesses and the UK economy as a whole.

The great thing is that the same skills that can be used to commit this type of crime can be used in a challenging, profitable and legal way. Our aim in supporting Cyber Security Challenge UK with this event is to harness the transferable skills of the participants and channel their abilities positively into activities which could then be used as a hobby or to develop a lucrative career in this exciting and expanding industry.”

Joining the Metropolitan Police and the NCA are a mix of local and national cyber security firms and experts including NCC Group, information assurance firm headquartered in Manchester, as well as the Head of the BT Security Academy and Head of Commercial Development in Penetration Testing at BT. Industry partners involved in delivering the Intervention Day are not only keen to deter those who are at risk of offending, but are also enthusiastic to hire young people with strong technical skill sets in a global effort to plug the cyber skills gap. Sessions with Grillatech and guest speakers from the Cyber Security Challenge UK alumni group completed the agenda.

Ethan Thomas, Operations Officer at the National Crime Agency, added: “The National Crime Agency (NCA) has witnessed a rise in the amount of young individuals engaging in cyber crime for non-traditional reasons. One of the tools designed to deter and divert those with technical ability is today’s workshop, it forms part of a regional roll-out following the success of the initial workshop pilot in 2017, and successive regional workshops. The workshop delivers education on employment opportunities, alongside the law and online social responsibility, allowing the attendees to make informed choices about the direction of their lives. These individuals present today have the opportunity to embrace a bright new future which aligns their technical skill sets to legitimate and legal activities.”

The NCA reports that increasing numbers of teens are getting involved in cyber crime, often for fun and with a poor understanding of the consequences, but the penalties and impact on their education and career prospects can be severe. It’s more important than ever that public and private organisations work together to tackle this problem that simultaneously relates to the global shortfall in cyber security workers, currently estimated by non-profit organisation (ISC)2 to stand at 3 million. Cyber Security Challenge UK is proud to work alongside the NCA to lead early intervention measures; essential in a world where cyber skills are highly transferable to any industry alongside rapidly evolving cyber risks and threats.

Debbie Tunstall, Head of Education Programmes, said: “Normally, cyber crimes committed by young people escalate from experimental hacking, and are not executed with malicious intent. Workshops and training encourage the participants invited to attend this programme to develop a better understanding of the law, and the consequences of committing offences. Our focus is on equipping these youngsters with better education so that they can make informed choices and channel their technical proficiencies into exciting careers.

“Our ongoing collaboration with the NCA, today supported further by the Metropolitan Police and BT, as well as cyber security organisations enthusiastic to hire young talent, provides a safe environment in which skilled young people can connect with industry and leave feeling confident that a bright future lies ahead.”

Kevin Brown, Managing Director of BT Security added: “We’re proud to be hosting this Intervention Day at BT Tower, as we see these events as a great way of making young people aware of the impact that cyber crimes can have. Helping young people understand the consequences of the decisions that they make at an early stage in life is not just a moral responsibility, but benefits our industry as a whole in boosting the pipeline of future cyber professionals. All the attendees at this event are there because they have valuable skills, which can be used in a positive or negative direction, and explaining the benefits of using them in the right way can go a long way to tackling the Cyber Skills Gap. Careers in cyber security can be hugely rewarding, not just in terms of professional development, but also in terms of personal pride in protecting the businesses and institutions that underpin our modern way of life. We know from past experience that these events can have a huge impact on a young person’s trajectory in life, and we need skilled people to be on the right side of protecting the UK.”