The UK National Crime Agency (NCA) has launched the opening stage of the fifth Cyber Security Challenge, calling on participants to help mitigate a set of simulated cyber attacks targeting the UK as it seeks to find the next crop of UK cyber talent.
The opening stage will see participants attempt to help combat and track a fictional group of hackers, codenamed the Flag Day Associates.
The Flag Day Associates were unveiled at the end of the NCA masterclass awards ceremony in March via a video featuring three masked individuals, and are set to be the ongoing "villains" of the challenge.
The NCA's Adam Kramer, who developed the challenge, said the Flag Day Associates' activities are designed to provide participants with a realistic set of scenarios that accurately portray what it is like working within the security industry.
"The aim of the Opening Lines is to test the skills required to investigate cyber crime and the individuals or groups responsible for it," he said.
"Whether it's the creation and spread of malicious software, or attempting to steal banking details, those charged with investigating cyber crime need to have the technical ability, knowledge and understanding to defend the UK and its citizens from cyber-related attacks."
The highest ranking entrants in the opening stage will be put forward to participate in the first of the Challenge's set of face-to-face cyber battles. The cyber battles are a series of one-day events that run throughout the year.
Once the battles finish, the top-scoring candidates then qualify to take part in the challenge's masterclass final next year.
Last year, the masterclass final challenge was developed by cyber security experts from BT, GCHQ, the NCA, Juniper Networks and Lockheed Martin.
The Cyber Security Challenge is an initiative sponsored by the UK government that is designed to discover untapped talent that has been running since 2010. The 2014 Cyber Security Challenge was won by 19-year-old student William Shackleton in March.
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