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Cyber Security Challenge UK with QinetiQ: Hacking the hackers

PUBLISHED: 13:59 30 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:59 30 October 2018

QinetiQ's Cyber Security Challenge

QinetiQ's Cyber Security Challenge

Archant

“Supporting competitions and initiatives with Cyber Security Challenge UK and QinetiQ provides a brilliant platform for uncovering and nurturing cyber security talent while also highlighting the need for due diligence to be carried out with digital security.”

Malvern-based QinetiQ along with Her Majesty’s Government Communications Centre (HMGCC) hosted the latest Cyber Security Challenge UK Face-to-Face competition.

The contest saw 28 code-breaking amateurs from across the country ethically hack the cryptocurrency wallets from a fictitious bank.

The challenges, which put contestants’ cryptography, problem-solving, automation and scripting skills to the test, included breaking into digital vaults and delivering presentations to board members.

With cryptowallets and Bitcoin hitting the headlines recently, cryptocurrency fraud created more than £2m in losses over the summer.

And so it’s crucial that the systems and services users use are safe, secure and highly tested.

HMGCC and QinetiQ worked in partnership to create the competition - validated by the NSCS CyberFirst interns, who tested the challenges before contestants got stuck in.

Teams pulled from experienced staff and graduates from both organisations created the programme and HMGCC used its manufacturing skills to create a vault which contestants had to crack.

Scenarios included the fictitious bank publicly listing the encrypted wallets of each account customer, after allowing investors to choose their own system to hide the key giving access to their account. With each customer choosing a different method, candidates were tasked with fool-proofing each system by hacking into the accounts.

“We really wanted to push the contestants and seriously test their skill sets. Digital wallets and cryptocurrencies may not feel like money, but they have genuine real-world value that needs to be protected,” said Ashleigh Curnow from HMGCC’s Recruitment Team. “Supporting competitions and initiatives with Cyber Security Challenge UK and QinetiQ provides a brilliant platform for uncovering and nurturing cyber security talent while also highlighting the need for due diligence to be carried out with digital security. We’ve been really impressed with the skills and determination we have seen from all of the competitors and we are excited to see that the UK is continuing to develop the engineers that we need.”

The winning team was Great Hyperbolic Omnicognate Neutron Wrangler, comprised of A-level students and interns from across the country.

Colin Lobley, CEO of Cyber Security Challenge UK added: “It was great to see that the latest challenge with QinetiQ and HMGCC not only attracted young, talented school and university students, but also people looking for career changes too. The cyber security industry has the need for a range of skills, from computer experts to psychologists, communicators and policy-makers. What we are looking for is those with an inquisitive mind. It is therefore crucial that we continue to partner with forward-thinking organisations such as HMGCC and QinetiQ to identify and inform people about what is on offer when choosing a career in cyber security.”

Visit the QinetiQ website here.

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