A series of competitions designed to inspire a new generation of security experts in the UK has opened for registration today.
"At the moment universities are not filling course places, and many firms struggle to find the right people for key roles. It's all about explaining to the next generation that there is a real diversity and range of skills needed," said Cyber Security Challenge UK director Judy Baker.
"The competitions we are launching today will hopefully encourage people to test themselves against the challenges set by some of the industry's leading firms to help inspire a new generation of cyber security professionals."
The first challenge is the QinetiQ Network Defence Competition, in which teams will review and defend a simulated network against attacks from cyber security professionals on a small and medium network level.
Baker explained that entry to the QinetiQ challenge will be limited to 10 teams for the first 12 months of the competition before it is opened up fully next year.
"We want to make sure everything runs smoothly this year, which is why we are limiting entry to 10 teams. These places will be assigned to those who join early, or teams comprising school or college pupils," she said.
The second challenge is the SANS Institute and Sophos Treasure Hunt, an online game taking place on specific dates in September and December in which participants will be tasked with identifying security flaws on a dummy web site.
Winners of each challenge will be invited to a face-to-face Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass, where they will compete to win the overall prize.
There is also a coding challenge launched today, and Baker said that a range of further competitions are in the pipeline.
Prizes on offer for the winners of the events including bursaries for university courses, training courses with private sector firms, access to professional expertise and resources, and membership of leading industry bodies.
Dave Garfield, chief technology officer and head of Detica's Electronic Systems Group, one of the companies sponsoring the initiative, said cyber security was vital for protecting the UK and the economy.
"The criminal fraternity is continually innovating and the FBI estimates cyber-criminals make more money than the drug trade. As the world moves increasingly online we need individuals who can help us stay ahead of criminals, " he said.
"As such, it's vital we foster and encourage new talent and these challenges will be ideal for helping the next generation of cyber security personnel hone their skills and give those with self-taught skills the chance to develop their career in this space."
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