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PwC preview new Cyber Security Challenge UK cipher and celebrate previous winners

Published: 25/01/13

The Cyber Security Challenge UK and PwC have been joined by over 100 cyber security professionals and Sir John McLeod Scarlett, the former Director General of MI6 to celebrate last year’s cipher winners and announce details of a brand new cipher challenge which will mark the launch of the Challenge’s first ever app.

In PwC’s new cipher a highly sensitive piece of data has been stolen from an executive's machine. It’s the type of targeted network intrusion and data compromise which affect companies on a daily basis. Those who tackle the cipher will be challenged to understand, unravel, and piece together the attacker's actions and determine whether the stolen file can be decoded.  

Participants will require basic network traffic analysis skills, alongside programming or scripting skills and knowledge of cryptographic algorithms, which add a mathematical element to the puzzle.

Kris McConkey, who leads PwC’s Cyber Threat Detection & Response practice said: “Intellectual property, trade secrets, customer databases and corporate and personal communications are a key currency in organised crime and economic espionage. Just last week ‘Red October’, an elusive cyber-espionage campaign was found to be stealing data from targeted individuals around the globe and this new cipher is more closely aligned to what we see in real-world network intrusions every day. By developing a more realistic scenario, this cipher will test a far broader and deeper spectrum of skills than any we have previously run and more accurately reflects the nature of incident response engagements our team here at PwC conducts for clients day in, day out.”

The new cipher will mark the launch of the first ever Cyber Security Challenge app which will be available to download from the iTunes app store in the coming weeks and will be available on both iOS and Android.

The app will act as the place to go for exclusive new competitions and ciphers. It is designed to provide the Challenge followers with an easy way to access new competitions and puzzles at the click of a button, anywhere in the world, that will help hone the basic technical skills required for a career in cyber security.

A number of previous Challenge ciphers will be made available with the new app in addition to the PwC cipher and other brand new brain teasers developed from around the Challenge’s extensive sponsor base. The app will be free to download from the app store Stephanie Daman, CEO, Cyber Security Challenge UK said: “The Challenge has already proven that there are many people out there who have the skills, aptitude and characteristics to become a UK cyber defender but who don’t realise quite how capable they are. It is up to the Challenge to find new ways of reaching these people, helping them acknowledge their talent, and nurturing it. This smartphone app is the latest addition to our armoury.”

Alan Turing cipher

The PwC evening also recognised the achievements of those who cracked last year’s Alan Turing cipher launched by the Challenge in July as part of the great man’s centenary celebrations. As a tribute to some of Turing’s greatest work our would-be code-breakers were faced with Morse and binary encoded messages and Enigma encrypted text. Whilst many attempted to crack it, after two weeks of intense code-breaking, only four individuals had solved this multi-layered puzzle. The first of which was Ryan Lothian, who was awarded an iPad at the event.


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