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Cyber Camp puts next generation of cyber defenders through their paces

Published: 14/09/12

Security Lancaster hosts Cyber Security Challenge UK’s first cyber camp, alongside KPMG, RHUL, HP, Raytheon, Ultimate, the Police Central e-Crime Unit, Micro Systemation, Ultra Electronics and QinetiQ.

This month, some of the UK’s most talented cyber security enthusiasts were given the chance to take part in a unique five day cyber camp as part of this year’s Cyber Security Challenge UK. Hosted at Security Lancaster, Lancaster University’s new research centre in security and protection science, candidates received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to face a series of security exercises designed and run by industry experts.

Opened by welcomes from Lancaster University and the Challenge, Day One kicked off with KPMG's network Penetration Testing Challenge. Designed especially for the cyber camp, this competition was all about attack vs defence – getting inside the bad guys heads and understanding how to attack in order to defend more securely. KPMG based their challenge around a simulated IT system from a make-believe nuclear plant. The atmosphere throughout the challenge was intense. Candidates were split into red and blue teams with each side attempting to get in to the other side’s networks whilst frantically defending their own network. 

Cyber security experts assessed the teams on how well they defended against attacks on PCNs (Process Control Network - computers that control robots) and SCADA systems (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems - network management tools for computers that control robots and switches).  The winning team then shared how they managed to keep their simulated nuclear plants intact, whilst bringing down the other team. KPMG experts were on hand to provide feedback before Alan Tomlinson from Royal Holloway University of London explained the 'Informed' part of informed defence activity. This involved looking at how to respond to threats and newly discovered vulnerabilities.  In the evening HP sponsored a dinner for candidates and offered a presentation on Innovation as a look forward to the following days activities.

The next day, Nigel Harrison, a Director of the Challenge welcomed Eric Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood to the camp. Mr Ollerenshaw spent the morning at Security Lancaster, meeting with candidates as they took part in an ICE Day (Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship).

In order to demonstrate the importance of business, as well as technical skills in cyber security, lecturers at Lancaster briefed the candidates on broader commercial areas that require creative security solutions. Candidates were asked to take an entrepreneurial approach and come up with Cyber Security business propositions. Candidate were supported by additional briefings from Ultra Electronics and access to business mentors from CREST, GCHQ, Raytheon, Ultimate and the Challenge. They presented their business propositions within a ‘Dragon’s Den’ featuring experts from Raytheon, sponsors of the evening dinner, Ultimate and Lancaster University.  Whilst the Dragons were ‘deliberating’ the candidates were treated to a presentation on life as part of the Land Information Assurance Group (LIAG) – Territorial Army Cyber Security Professionals.

In addition to the ICE activities, the Challenge ran a Careers Fair with over 20 of our sponsors, including HP, QinetiQ, CREST, 7Safe, CompTIA, GCHQ, HMGCC, ISC2, KPMG, PCEU, Raytheon and Ultra Electronics. They provided priceless insight into careers opportunities and training within cyber security. The fair was open to all and included several workshops, including a drop-in CV clinic and sessions on Interview Skills, Cyber Security Career Paths, and how to improve your chances at assessment Centres and Psychometric Testing.

On Saturday, candidates engaged in a real-life crime scenario, to be taught about bagging and tagging and the confiscation of evidence. With training from the Police Central e-crime Unit, Lancaster University and Micro Systemation, a leader in forensic technology for mobile device examination, they learnt how to analyse these devices to find out information about their owners. They were then briefed on how to provide evidence in court as an expert witness which they then put to use in a simulated court session.

The evening event was sponsored by Ultra Electronics and included a review of the day’s activities and a presentation on cyber security issues.

Before candidates left camp they faced one final challenge: what will cyber security mean in the future?  Lancaster University ran an interactive session exploring what a cyber security disaster would look like in 2020 and what pre-emptive steps we can take to offset them.

Finally, all candidates were invited to the Cyber Camp Awards Lunch, sponsored by QinetiQ, where it was revealed that based on their impressive performance at the camp, eight candidates had successfully secured places at our Masterclass Final next year.  All candidates went away happy, knowing they’d been put through their paces, and that they had performed very well throughout the camp.  The lucky eight going forward to Masterclass are:

Jim Halfpenny

Matthew Bartlett

Matthew Steer

Ryan Lothian

Dean McCarten

Ben Douglas

Michael Hsu

Adam Tonks 

Most of the camp activities have been filmed.  Watch this space……

Finally, Cyber Security Challenge UK & Lancaster University would like to express their thanks to all the sponsors and candidates involved who made this Cyber Camp such a great success. 

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