united kingdom


Can those already working in cyber security enter the competitions?

Our competitions are designed to bring new talent into cyber security so we are focused on encouraging entries from those of any age who are not yet professionals.  And we will award our major prizes to this group.  However, we recognise that some professionals would like to have a go,  so in competitions at the virtual stage, where they have been designed to enable larger numbers of places than the amateurs can fill, we may run a separate leader board for professionals.  See the detailed description of each competition to see if this is on offer.

Why are you not giving your best prizes to those people already working in cyber security?

Our mission is to bring new talent into the profession.  Our prizes are designed to be career enabling and to help those not working in cyber security already.

Who is behind the Cyber Security Challenge?

The Challenge is bringing together leading experts in cyber security from across the UK and beyond. They are working together to design and develop a series of challenges/competitions that will test the nation's cyber security skills. This group is led by a management team consisting of professional bodies, government departments, private industry, and public sector organisations. A full list of the participants can be found at about us.

If Cyber Security Challenge UK Ltd is a private company, is this a money-making initiative?

No. The Challenge is a not for profit company and many leading people are giving us their time and donating facilities because they understand the value of our work. It is designed to help create an environment where we can grow and improve the quality of the UK pool of cyber security talent. To get there we need to take some important project management and administrative steps and we have established a legal entity to manage what is a complex small business.

Are you collaborating with the US given it has run cyber challenges in the past?

Yes, this is a valuable partnership. The USCC (US Cyber Challenge) is very supportive and those leading national competitions in the US have been generous in working with us. The SANS Institute is a founder sponsor of Cyber Security Challenge UK and has shared its competition material and experience with us. The US Department of Defense Cyber Crime Centre (DC3) has established a UK strand to its digital forensics competition. We will award a prize to the winning UK team.

Is this just a US Cyber Challenge for the UK?

The principle behind both Challenges is the same - we need to expand the pool of talented individuals for the cyber security profession. How each Challenge works on the ground in different cultures and the focus and priorities of the work are all defined by the local delivery team. In the UK this team is different to the team in the US and as such our overall approaches differs as well. But we are delighted that there is a clear link between us so we can work together to staff the cyber security profession with the talented people needed to manage global problems.

This sounds like a route for government and industry to identify good hackers and employ them.

This is not the objective of our work. The Challenge has been established to develop future talent for our cyber security profession and it tests a broad array of skills across multiple disciplines. These skills focus on how to spot vulnerabilities, how to defend networks, and how to extract and analyse complex information. These skills are much wider and more challenging than those required to develop malware and undertake the criminal activities the cyber security profession defends against every day. We are seeking individuals with an aptitude and a talent for the skills required to prevent hackers from succeeding.

You say that there is a growing skills gap in the UK cyber security industry. Can you substantiate these claims?

SANS Institute, a founder sponsor of Cyber Security Challenge UK, funded a survey which has tested these assumptions. The survey sample comprised a significant number of experienced professionals well equipped to make accurate judgments. The survey showed that:

Over 90% of responses have difficulty in recruiting to cyber security jobs. Nearly 60% of responses indicated that the number of cyber security jobs will increase The increase is expected to be over all 8 of the job categories defined by the Institute of Information Security Professionals Competitions

When and how can participants enter competitions?

Register here on line to enter any of our competitions. You will be able to use the same account to enter further competitions as they become available.

Can candidates participate in the competitions as and when they like?

No. When you register you will register for a competition run at a specific time.

Will there be more than one winner?

There will be an overall winner and a runner up for each competition, a winning team from Masterclass and an overall Champion and Runner Up.  For 2011/12 we have a portfolio of c£100k of career enabling prizes to give out to some 33 winners.

What is the Masterclass?

To add to the excitement, those who win a face-to-face playoff, regardless of whether they are competing as part of a team or as a solo entrant, will secure a place on the Cyber Security Challenge UK grand final or Masterclass.   This is an opportunity to compete with, and against, other finalists from across the competitions, for a chance to be crowned the UK's ultimate cyber security champion. The Masterclass is held each Spring.

Can you give me more detail on what candidates will be asked to do?

It is important we don't give too much away at this early stage or we will spoil the surprises for those participating. What we can say is that they will be asked to solve the sort of problems cyber security professionals encounter every day. This may range from defending technology networks from attack, to identifying malicious code in websites. At the Masterclass it is likely that candidates will need to demonstrate technical, interpersonal, and decision making skills.

What do the winners receive?

The Cyber Security Challenge UK has a portfolio of career enabling prizes worth c£100k to reward both team and individual success across the three competitions and the Masterclass. Prizes will help winning candidates through educational opportunities such as bursaries, paid internships, private sector training courses and access to professional expertise, knowledge and networking opportunities. Prizes will be selected to enable each successful participant's ambitions and to fit with where they are in their career.

Will there be more competitions in the future?

Yes. Our initial competitions only challenge a small slice of the skills the profession needs. We will continue to build our portfolio of competitions and this year you should watch out for some ad hoc competitions which will be introduced at different times.

Why have you limited the Challenge to British citizens resident in the UK?

We are trying to improve the supply of home grown talent available in the UK. We understand that some British citizens will be resident overseas for some periods and hope they will enter our competitions when they return to the UK.

If I have to travel to get to a face to face challenge or the Masterclass will you refund the costs?

We will refund reasonable travelling expenses.

Is there an age limit on the competitions?

Please read the individual competition rules as we are considering creating a stream in some competitions for younger players to ensure.  Overall, some material is very challenging, other less so.  In general the material is designed to be suitable for those with some knowledge but no professional experience in cyber security, most usually 16 to adult.

Are the challenges paper based or on-line practical challenges, testing the skills business needs?

There are lots of different challenges designed to interest different people at different stages of their careers and provide a range of exciting games for all tastes.

I have an idea for a competition how do I progress this?

We welcome any ideas for future competitions. Individuals with an idea they wish to put forward should write to queries@cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk. There is a group which is actively considering new ideas for challenges and they will assess each option. But we would like to be clear from the outset that if an idea is to be developed into a competition this will be undertaken by a business sponsoring the Challenge rather than the individual making the initial suggestion. Whilst the Challenge is a not-for-profit initiative we are totally reliant on sponsorship to deliver our competitions and this is therefore part of our approach to ensure everyone can enjoy the Challenge now and in the future.