If you have seen, listened or read any of the UK (or much of the international) press of the last few days you could not have failed to notice the coverage of the 2014 Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass. Juniper Networks was there and this is what happened...
On Thursday March 13th, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, alongside leading players in cyber security from BT, the NCA and GCHQ launched the Cyber Security Challenge Masterclass 2014 at an event BT Centre, London.
The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP (left) and Mark Hughes, CEO BT Security (right) speaking at the Cyber Security Challenge Masterclass launch event in BT Centre
Mark Quartermaine, VP UK and Ireland at Juniper Networks was also there as Juniper, a strategic security partner to BT, was invited by BT to participate in the challenge.
The Challenge ran from Friday morning through Saturday lunch time and it couldn’t have been held at a more evocative location; the Churchill War Rooms in London. 6 teams of contestants battled a simulated cyber-attack on the UK that had paralysed financial institutions and disrupted the national power supply.
The nature of the attack?
What looked at first like a DDoS attack turned out to be a spear phishing campaign launched by party or parties unknown and attacking key individuals with a type of malware (created for the event) that, among other things, encrypted data on hard drives and demanded a ransom payment to retrieve it. A simple extortion or a diversionary tactic for something more sinister? State executed or ambitious amateur? These are the kind of questions the contestants needed to answer while also neutralising the attack and recovering the lost data.
What made the event so powerful for me was the way the organisers added realism. The challenge is all about identifying and encouraging the BEST new talent into the cyber security industry and that means more than just having a great technical mind.
The 42 candidates faced regular ‘board meetings’ to present their findings. They were probed for recommendations to take to the prime minister; asked what advice should be given to industry and civilians affected by the attack. Even subjected to mock press interviews with mixed results!
And when the board includes leading figures from BT, the NCA and GCHQ – who have committed their time and focus exclusively to this 2-day event - it’s a sure sign of the seriousness with which the aims of the challenge are held.
John Penningtion, Juniper Networks
speaking at the award ceremony at
the Intitute of Directors.
Below are links to just some of the press reports released in the 48 hours since the event:
UK techies take part in underground cyberwar game
Computer Business Review, Staff Writer
Soon-to-be Facebook intern wins UK Cyber Security Challenge
The Register, John Leyden
GCHQ, BT and Lockheed go talent spotting as UK faces cyber skills shortage
TechWorld UK, Sam Shead
Cyber Security Challenge winner wants to "do some good in the world"
ITPro, Clare Hopping
Congratulations to all the finalists who, by being selected for the Masterclass, have already proved their great talent. And a special congratulations to William Shackleton who was announced as the overall winner – a fantastic achievement!
And finally, thank you to our partners BT for inviting Juniper Networks to be a part of this great event and, with the NCA and GCHQ created and executed such a scary cyber security game play!