FINALISTS from this year’s Cyber Security Challenge UK competition recently visited GCHQ in Cheltenham to find out more about cyber security as part of their prize.
The aim of the competition is to test both the cyber security skills of contestants through a number of online games and challenges created by commercial companies, and to encourage talented people into the cyber security profession.
The visit of this year’s finalists to GCHQ started with them signing the Official Secrets Act before embarking on a number of events including; learning about GCHQ’s long tradition of protecting data stretching back to Bletchley Park from the GCHQ Historian; a tour of the facilities within the famous ‘doughnut’ building, including the computer hall, and a number of presentations by GCHQ’s experts in the field of cyber security.
Jonathan Hoyle, GCHQ’s Director General for Government & Industry Cyber Security said, “I’m delighted to welcome this year’s Cyber Security Challenge UK finalists to GCHQ. The very fact that they are here today is testament to the skill and expertise they have already demonstrated in the field of cyber security. We hope that by coming here, meeting us and finding out about the important work GCHQ does in the area of cyber security, that they will be inspired to follow a career path in this sphere.”
Stephanie Daman, CEO, Cyber Security Challenge UK said, “This trip to GCHQ will really open our candidate’s eyes to how the same skills they have demonstrated during our competitions are being put to use by professionals in the real world to keep the UK safe from online attacks. There is nothing more powerful in terms of inspiring people to look for jobs in this sector than showing them first-hand how the professionals go about their extraordinary work in impressive facilities such as GCHQ."
Jonathan, one of the visiting finalists said, “I’ve really enjoyed my time at GCHQ, it is fantastic to have a glimpse of what goes on in the ‘doughnut’. The skills I had to use in the Challenge to overcome cyber threats really resonate with what I’ve seen and the people I’ve met.”
GCHQ is a co-sponsor of the Cyber Security Challenge UK and provides advice and assistance in the running of competitions. In addition to the visit to GCHQ, each winner received their choice of a reward from a collection of career-enhancing prizes which has grown in financial value three-fold since last year to over £100,000 and includes bursaries for university places; internships at private companies; industry training courses; access to industry conferences, and membership to professional bodies such as the National Skills Academy for IT.