The UK government has launched a gaming portal which it hopes will find and train the next generation of IT security talent.
Cyphinx was unveiled by Cyber Security Challenge UK and is backed by the Cabinet Office and the Department for Culture Media and Sport. The initiative will host cyber security-focused games, competitions, ciphers and recruitment opportunities.
The portal is hosted by Skyscape Cloud Services and was developed in conjunction with Serious Games International. It is aimed at a demographic between the ages of 12 and 25.
One game is described as a ‘virtual skyscraper', and allows players to create a custom-made avatar and explore environments with cyber tests built into the games.
Points accumulated during the gaming sessions are used to rank a player on their effectiveness at solving the problems inserted by employers.
"As they work their way through the games, players' scores are entered on leader boards for cyber security-related disciplines such as risk analysis, forensic analysis, network defence and ethics, giving them the chance to prove and showcase their individual cyber skills and creating a digital CV in the process," said Cyber Security Challenge UK in a statement.
A number of high-profile organisations are backing the initiative, including the UK National Crime Agency, GCHQ, the Bank of England and the SANS Institute.
The gaming project also uses the popular game Minecraft as a learning tool. The aim is to make players solve puzzles, for example finding codes in unusual places, and complete timed challenges.
Stephanie Daman, chief executive at Cyber Security Challenge UK, explained that there is a chronic shortage of people with cyber skills, yet an untapped "wealth of talent" in the next generation.
"Over the last six years we have made it our mission to find these individuals, using the best, most innovative methods. This is the next logical step to inspire an audience who may not yet even know that cyber is the career for them," she said.
"By harnessing industry, government and candidate knowledge and expertise to find talent in new and innovative ways, we've created a world first - a virtual community that can be accessed whenever our candidates desire."
Ed Vaizey, minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, added that there is now an increasing demand for cyber security professionals in the UK.
"The government is committed to encouraging young people to consider cyber security as a career, and this new 'virtual world' will help ensure the UK develops the cyber experts of the future," he said.
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