Future of Work

With the cyber security skills gap widening amidst a rise in the overall threat landscape, business are now relying on cyber security war games to find and recruit new cyber warriors whose talents have remained untapped for years.

The Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass competition ended on a high earlier this week with 22-year old Mo Rahman emerging as the overall winner, ahead of 41 other talented finalists, some of whom came from abroad to test their skills.

The three-day competition, which involved a team of such finalists breaching a shipping company’s servers and another defending the breach and as well as pin-pointing an insider threat, not only measured their cyber security skills, but also their presentation and leadership skills.

In order to qualify for the event, these cyber warriors had to pass an initial online test conducted by Cyber Security Challenge U.K., followed by competitive one-against-one challenges in real time. All the finalists were then grouped into teams, with each of the teams assigned different purposes.

Even though the competition was held every year since 2010, the organisers made sure that the challenge presented to the finalists this year would be as realistic as possible. The finalists were made to perform forensic analysis, and then to use the results of such analysis to build a case against an insider who was responsible for a breach. They were also made to conduct a live presentation in order to convince fictitious board members.

The purpose of the competition is basically to help industries and businesses hire talented cyber security warriors whose talents would remain hidden but for such competitions. Observers from businesses would not only be able to witness their cyber skills in real time, but also their analytical, communication, and leadership skills, things that are now believed as basic skills that cyber security professionals must possess.

‘This event is designed to mirror challenges faced by leading industry experts, in order to identify the UK’s best talent. Traditional recruitment methods don’t work in the world of cyber-security – often the most talented individuals don’t stand out on paper and events like this allow us to put the best talent in the country in front of many of the leading organisations in the country that are seeking more cyber security skilled workers,’ said Nigel Harrison, acting CEO of Cyber Security Challenge UK.

‘We face a shortage of cyber security professionals, not just here in the UK but worldwide. To address this, we are doing more than ever before to inspire people to pursue a career in cyber security,’ said Caroline Noakes, Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency.

‘We will continue to work in partnership with organisations like the Cyber Security Challenge UK to make Britain secure, confident and prosperous in the digital world,’ she added.

With the rising cyber threats landscape, the existing cyber security skills gap is not only hurting businesses, the legal community, the media, as well as major industries, but also the country’s critical resources like the police forces, the armed forces as well as the NHS, whose recent encounter with ransomware attacks is well-known.

Recently, an eye-opening research from independent think-tank Reform revealed that only 40 out of 13,500 volunteers working for the UK Police were cyber security experts, and that the force was in dire need of as many as 12,000 volunteers from the civil society to fight the growing menace of cyber crimes which accounted for nearly half of all crimes.

The research paper also recommended the setting up of a new digital academy by the Home Office to offer cyber security training to as many as 1,700 police officers and staff every year. It also urged the Home Office to use administrative savings from accelerating the Government’s automation agenda to set up a £450 million a year capital grant for the forces, and also to use the £175 million Police Transformation Fund to implement a transformational technology.

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