- SMB Spotlight
The Cyber Security Challenge has crowned 19-year-old student William Shackleton (pictured left) its latest champion, after he beat 41 competitors at the Masterclass Final.
The final challenge was developed by cyber security experts from BT, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the National Crime Agency (NCA), Juniper Networks and Lockheed Martin. Finalists competed to defend the City of London from a simulated cyber attack.
As the winner, Shackleton will be offered a choice of £100,000 worth of career-enhancing prizes including training courses, access to industry events and opportunities for paid internships and university bursaries.
Shackleton is the third individual to win the competition since the Cyber Security Challenge began operating in 2010. UK chemist Stephen Miller won the previous Cyber Security Challenge.
The Cyber Security Challenge is one of many government-sponsored initiatives designed to help increase the number of people entering the information security industry. Shackleton praised the challenge, listing it as an effective way to get young people such as himself interested in a career in security.
"I never considered a career in cyber security before taking part in the Challenge, but playing their competitions and meeting the industry leaders has shown me there are exciting jobs which need filling," he said.
"I'm convinced security is an area I want to pursue and I can't wait to take what I have learnt from the Challenge into my university studies and summer internship, and eventually into a job where I can do this stuff for real."
The news comes during a reported UK cyber skills drought. Numerous government agencies and private sector firms have reported difficulties in recruiting skilled cyber security professionals. The National Crime Agency pledged to train 400 new cyber intelligence officers over the next year to help plug the gap in October last year.
National cybercrime capabilities manager at the NCA, Kevin Williams, said the Cyber Security Challenge was a key initiative to spot undiscovered talent during its recruitment drive.
"Events such as the Cyber Security Challenge provide a fantastic opportunity for us to not only test the skills of those taking part but also provide them with pathways which allow them to exploit their sought-after cyber skills," he said.
"As we modernise our workforce by welcoming new people and new ideas into the NCA, we want roles at the agency to be the career of choice for people wanting a future in tackling cybercrime and, more broadly, in law enforcement."
Cabinet Office minister with responsibility for the UK Cyber Security Strategy Francis Maude mirrored Williams' argument. "To get ahead in the global race we need more people with the skills and abilities to protect businesses and meet the challenges of the future.
"The Cyber Security Challenge encourages talented people into cyber security careers, bringing together industry, security services and law enforcement to develop cyber battle competitions".
Registrations for the next Cyber Security Challenge are open now. Entrants will have to mitigate attacks from a new multi-threat opponent codenamed The Flag Day Associates.