Tomorrow’s cyber defenders battle it out at Inter-ACE

The Edinburgh team won the competition supported by GCHQ and aimed at inspiring graduates to pursue a career in cyber security

More than 130 students representing 18 of the UK’s top cybersecurity universities battled it out at the Inter-ACE 2018 cyber security challenge, hosted by the University of Cambridge.

The competition, supported by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, is designed to attract the next generation of cyber security talent.

The victorious team from the University of Edinburgh won the top prize of £6,000, with second place going to the University of Southampton and Imperial College London taking home bronze.

The winners will now compete with the best of the USA at C2C – ‘Cambridge2Cambridge’, a transatlantic contest jointly organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Cambridge to be held between the 29th of June and 1st of July 2018 at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Now in its third year, Inter-ACE was established to help resolve the vast and growing cyber security skills gap, with an estimated shortfall of 1.8m workers worldwide by 2022. Inter-ACE aims to inspire young tech enthusiasts into the cyber security sector, while also honing the skills of those who already have a strong aptitude for ethical hacking and helping them meet like-minded individuals and potential employers.

For people out there thinking about getting into cyber security and sitting on the fence, get yourself into a cyber security competition

Professor Frank Stajano, Founder of Inter-ACE and Professor of Security and Privacy at the University of Cambridge, said: “It’s no secret that the cyber security industry is suffering from a large and growing skills gap. We must do more to attract a more diverse pool of talent into the field. This is about demonstrating that careers in cyber security not only help to keep your country, your friends and your family safe, but are varied, valued and most of all fun.”

“There is still much more to be achieved, but I have been delighted over the last three years to be welcoming a growing number of female participants and contestants from increasingly diverse backgrounds to the two-day competition. We had 18 women competing this year, as opposed to just two when we started! It’s working. There is no set profile for a cyber security professional and Inter-ACE contributes to reaching more people with that important message,” he concluded.  

Nick, a student from the winning team, said “For people out there thinking about getting into cyber security and sitting on the fence, get yourself into a cyber security competition. Chances are the first one might not go so great, but you’ll get there and learn a lot. That’s exactly how we started out.”

Inter-ACE 2018 involved a number of different scenarios, including preventing a hack on a UK city’s infrastructure and a tap on an undersea communications cable. Connected devices such as a children’s toy were also used to demonstrate the impact of hacking techniques. 

The two-day event featured over 20 challenges in total, set by experts from the University of Cambridge and sponsors including Context IS and Palo Alto Networks.

Inter-Ace was established by the UK’s National Cyber Security Strategy.