PwC Hosts Simulated National Cyber Forensic Investigation to Find Future UK Cyber Defenders

Recently, PwC‘s UK HQ hosted a unique cyber forensics investigation carried out by members of the public. The competition, the latest in the series from the Cabinet Office-backed Cyber Security Challenge UK, tasked a group of 22 amateur cyber defenders with stopping a simulated cyber-terror strike on a fictitious multinational energy giant. The staged attack replicated the same techniques used by real cyber-criminal gangs whilst contestants were immersed in a scenario mirroring PwC’s role in dealing with both the technical detail as well as the high stakes business fall-out which can follow. Participants were provided a forensics lab environment and given authentic PwC cyber-forensics technology to investigate and stop the mock attack.

Once the teams of candidates, chosen after 6 months of virtual qualifying rounds, identified the potential ‘holes’ that could be exploited by the cyber terrorist group, they  reported findings and proposed actions before a board of PwC executives.

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Andrew Miller, Cyber Security Director at PwC, said; “PwC’s recent CEO survey revealed cyber security as one of the top three concerns for business leaders. As the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve and cyber moves up the board agenda, the time is right to attract new talent into the industry. Having the technical know-how to defend against and respond to cyber incidents is essential, but it is equally important to develop the soft skills needed to thrive in a business environment. To build a successful career in the cyber industry, individuals will need to be able to communicate the risk and be confident in finding solutions to problems. This competition brings together some of the brightest cyber talent in the country to help raise the profile of cyber security as an attractive career choice. We want to inspire the next generation of cyber professionals, whilst identifying all-rounded and talented individuals.”

Team 4, made up of Andy Snowball, Steve Haughton, Jeremy Fox, and David Betteridge, was crowned the winning team on the day, taking home a variety of prizes including an AR Drone 2.0 for each member.

Fox, 28, an ex-financial trader turned software developer, said: “I realised today there’s a lot more than the technical side of security. There’s a different edge to it. You can be a detective finding little pieces  of evidence, putting them together and building the story. Even in the lift on the way up to the Boardroom, we were arguing over who was the guilty party!”

In addition to the winning team, 10 participants also qualified for the 2015 Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass Final based on an assessment of their individual contributions. Assessors included experts from QinetiQ, the National Crime Agency, GCHQ, Airbus Group, and JustASC. The qualifiers were Tim Fletcher, Paul Richard Taylor, John Fearnely, Paul O’Neill, Matt Finch, Jeremy Fox, David Betteridge, Andrew Snowball, Antony Semonella, and Oliver Rumbelow. The Masterclass will bring together an industry consortium including BT, GCHQ, NCA, Lockheed Martin, Juniper, and Airbus Group, all of which have been working for nearly a year to design the most realistic cyber-terror simulation ever staged in the UK.

Stephanie Daman, CEO at Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “In Davos last week, we saw how highly cyber security has climbed up the political agenda, especially in respect to the threat it poses to our critical national infrastructure. Whilst technologies and regulation can play their part in the solution, we will lose the fight against a growing cyber criminal world if we don’t find enough high quality people to keep the internet a safe place for us all to enjoy. The scenario PwC has created so realistically here today is not just to sell the industry as great career option to our candidates; it is also an accurate representation of where cyber security is going.”

Earlier this year, the Cyber Security Challenge launched its 2014/15 programme of online and face-to-face cyber games by introducing a new enemy, the fictitious Flag Day Associates, via a simulated threat video that warned of future cyber-attacks against the UK. This PwC contest is the latest in a series of competitions throughout the year to investigate the fabricated cyber-terror group and will culminate in the 2015 Masterclass Final.

About Cyber Security Challenge UK

cyber_security_challenge_ukCyber Security Challenge UK runs a series of national inspirational competitions aimed at attracting talented people into the profession and informing them about cyber security careers and learning opportunities. Now in its fifth year it is running an ambitious programme of competitions and activities designed to spread the word about why cyber security is such a fulfilling and varied career and help talented people get their first cyber security jobs. It is sponsored by some of the UK’s most prestigious public, private and academic organisations and is making a notable difference to the career prospects of those with the talents and aptitude to become cyber security professionals.

About PwC

pwcPwC helps organisations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 195,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

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