Finalists aged between 12-18 years old competed in the national final of CyberCenturion, a cyber defence and STEM skills competition, for a chance to win a trip to the US to learn about cybersecurity.
Led by global security company Northrop Grumman in partnership with government-backed Cyber Security Challenge UK and supported by the US Air Force Association, ten teams defended against fictional live cyber-threats in challenges set against the clock.
Competitors took the role of a security team of a fictional gaming association and were tasked with helping to secure the company after a spate of cyber attacks. The teams used their evolving cyber security skills to identify vulnerabilities in the networks, make critical patches and defend the system against attacks.
Creating greater awareness of STEM and building a more diverse workforce are global imperatives, and CyberCenturion is spearheading these efforts, helping to address the urgent need to foster the cyber talent of the future
Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Minister for Implementation in the Cabinet Office said: “As our National Cyber Security Strategy highlights, it is critically important that we develop the skills and capabilities we need to address the challenges we face. We can only succeed if we work in partnership with organisations like Northrop Grumman and the Cyber Security Challenge to inspire the next generation of cybersecurity professionals and entrepreneurs. It is fantastic to see so many young people take advantage of the exciting opportunities this competition brings – congratulations to them all.”
The ten finalist teams are the top performers from a series of intense qualifying rounds which took place across the UK. Northrop Grumman will send the winning team to the US where they will meet senior figures within the organisation, visit national landmarks and learn more about coding at the National Cryptologic Museum.
“Creating greater awareness of STEM and building a more diverse workforce are global imperatives, and CyberCenturion is spearheading these efforts, helping to address the urgent need to foster the cyber talent of the future,” said Andrew Tyler, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Europe.
CyberCenturion provides training materials to the competitors in order to make the programme accessible and encourage broad participation. Organisers say diversity is critical in the profession; as the cyber threat becomes more complex, workforce diversity is important in bringing different perspectives, academic backgrounds, and experiences. This year’s competition also sees the introduction of different ‘tracks’ aimed at encouraging more girls to take part.
Colin Lobley, CEO, Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “Competitions like CyberCenturion are critical in helping to inspire the next generation of cyber security talent and plugging the skills gap that we see in the industry today. We provide a safe and secure environment for young people to test their cyber skills, helping them to grow and learn along the way.”