Are you interested in cyber security but don’t know how to turn it into a career? If so, it’s worth investigating Cyber Security Challenge UK and it doesn’t matter how old you are or what qualifications you have (or don’t have). In this article we take a look at everything you need to know.
It’s an initiative set up to identify and encourage people with cyber security skills, with the aim of recruiting them into the industry. The programme offers both competitions to test a variety of skills across multiple age groups, together with education at all levels to help students and teachers develop cyber security knowledge and to promote future career prospects in the sector.
The principal competition starts with online qualifying challenges designed to test your skills. These aren’t necessarily all technical; cyber security also requires an aptitude for risk identification, problem solving and understanding psychology. From there, successful participants move on to face-to-face semi-finals and then to the Masterclass grand finale where an annual champion is chosen.
With a significant shortage of skills in the sector already biting, if law enforcement and security agencies can’t recruit suitable talent, the UK won’t be able to combat the rising tide of cyber crime. Cyber Security Challenge UK is looking to solve that potential issue with its competitions and its numerous events in schools, colleges and universities.
To enter, simply go to the Cyber Security Challenge UK website and register to play. Once registered, you can play online or download the app for a faster, more engaging experience.
You need to be 16 or over, a UK or EU citizen and a UK resident to enter the main competition, although the organisers have the discretion to admit under-16s with exceptional abilities. If you’re under 18 and get to the face-to-face stages, you must attend with an adult. If you currently work in the cyber security industry, you can register for the online competition but you cannot progress to the face-to-face stages.
There are also rules for the frequency with which you can enter. If you win a Masterclass place, you can’t enter any further face-to-face competitions in that calendar year. If you reach two or more Masterclasses or are crowned champion, you can no longer participate in face-to-face events. This is to ensure that as many potential cyber security professionals as possible can reach the semi-final and final stages. You can, however, still play online and attend educational events.
Cyber Security Challenge UK is funded primarily via sponsorship, including the UK Government, the National Crime Agency and GCHQ. As a Not for Profit organisation, it provides a route for both private and public enterprises to find exceptional talent that can defend the UK’s financial institutions, national security and overall digital economy in years to come.
As a result, the range of sponsors reflects the diverse needs of the cyber security industry. Sponsors include universities, defence organisations, government departments, technology companies of all sizes, law firms, together with education and training businesses.
Cyber Security Challenge UK is very much about the long term, an integral part of which is working to support and even change mainstream education. Cyber security developments don’t form a major part of any standard educational offering at GCSE and A-level, but the promotion of lesson plans, free summer camps and resources for parents should help to foster an interest in young people and encourage them onto a pathway that leads to a cyber security career.
In universities, the organisation offers a variety of boot camps tailored to both technical and non-technical undergraduates. Again, the emphasis is on finding the right people, unrestricted by age, background, or qualifications, setting them on a path where they are seen by the right recruiters.
Ultimately, if this is a sector that appeals to you, you meet the requirements and you think you have the necessary skills, this is a great starting point. Register, play, and see where it takes you.