New Cyber Security Competition Launched in the UK

Leading global defence and security company Northrop Grumman has partnered with the Cyber Security Challenge UK to bring Cyber Patriot, the hugely successful cyber education programme, to the UK for the first time, as part of the company’s commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. It means that the programme, which has already engaged more than 250,000 budding cyber defence professionals across the United States, will now be made available on this side of the Atlantic.

It will be a way for anyone interested in the world of cyber security to get their first real experience of the scenarios and challenges existing professionals have to undertake on a daily basis. The team competition begins in October with a practise round, followed by two competition rounds – one later the same month, and one in January 2015.

Created by the US Air Force Association (AFA) and sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Foundation, Cyber Patriot is designed to inspire young people towards careers in cyber security and STEM – an objective shared with the Challenge which has been working with academia, government and industry since 2010 to build a programme of competitions and initiatives that will help build a bigger UK cyber talent pool. The partnership agreement brings together Northrop Grumman’s industry leading expertise in cyber security with the Challenge’s understanding of how to build new ways to inspire and nurture future cyber talent at all ages. The result will be a competition designed specifically for those people who have the desire to be cyber professionals but who have yet to find a way to apply their knowledge to the real challenges existing professionals face.

Called CyberCenturion in the UK, it will sit between the existing Cyber Security Challenge schools programme for secondary schools, and the main Challenge competition programme. As a result, anyone seeking to learn cyber defence skills or enhance and test their existing cyber skills will now have a seamless pathway to follow, starting with school learning, moving through their first application of their knowledge to real cyber scenarios, and onwards to full scale cyber security competitions designed to move people into the sector as professionals.

CyberCenturion is played by teams of between four and six people. Each team must include a responsible adult as the liaison between the organisers and the participants, and the participants must be 18 years or under when the game is played. The competition consists of two rounds. Both rounds involve downloading a virtual computer image full of vulnerabilities exploitable by cyber criminals. The teams have approximately six hours within a window of approximately two days to identify and fix these vulnerabilities. The game runs on an internal clock, so judging can be based both on the vulnerabilities identified and fixed and the time taken to complete the task.

Different scores are assigned to each vulnerability depending on its complexity, and the vulnerabilities become more sophisticated as you move from the first to the second round. The scores from both rounds are combined to create a final result, and the top six teams will advance to a face-to-face showdown in April 2015. The prizes on offer for those who win the grand final are all career enhancing opportunities such as internships at Northrop Grumman and places at industry conferences.

“This partnership is an important opportunity for us to work together with Cyber Security Challenge UK to apply our industry leading knowledge and expertise in cyber security to help build the UK’s talent pool of cyber professionals of the future,” explains Andrew Tyler, Chief Executive Europe, Northrop Grumman. “The CyberCenturion competition will provide a way for young people interested in the world of cyber security to understand the cyber challenges of today, test their cyber defence skills, and inspire them in their choice of career.”

“Northrop Grumman’s education programme is the perfect fit for those individuals that have already been bitten by the cyber bug but have yet to find a way to apply their knowledge to real cyber security challenges,” says Stephanie Daman, Challenge CEO. “The fact that this is a team competition is particularly exciting as it opens up the possibility of new types of candidates coming forward to play. You can imagine everyone from local scout groups to computer clubs building teams for this type of competition. Partnering with Northrop Grumman to bring CyberCenturion to the UK will give this group of budding professionals their first chance to find out what it is like to face real cyber security challenges and prepare them to take the next step into our core competitions programme.”

Example competitions can be viewed now and begin in earnest in September – register here today https://play.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk/.

About Northrop Grumman Corporation

northrop_grummanNorthrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. The company holds itself to a higher standard, both in the products it delivers and in the way it conducts itself throughout the entire customer experience. Northrop’s mission is to be at the forefront of technology and innovation, delivering superior capability in tandem with maximized cost efficiencies.

About The Cyber Security Challenge Schools Programme

cyber_security_challenge_ukThe Cyber Security Challenge is a series of national competitions, learning programmes, and networking initiatives designed to identify, inspire and enable more EU citizens resident in the UK to become cyber security professionals. Established to bolster the national pool of cyber skills, it offers a unique programme of activities to introduce sufficient numbers of appropriately skilled individuals to learning and career opportunities in the profession.

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