QinetiQ face-to-face cyber battle identifies last set of Cyber Security Challenge Masterclass finalists

25 Feb 2014

Bedfordshire big data specialist triumphs at QinetiQ competition following day of searching for vulnerabilities in fictional airport CCTV systems, patching them up, and defending them from the attacks of rival teams.

Tuesday 25th February, Farnborough: This weekend saw eight talented cyber defence hopefuls become the final lucky few to secure a place at the Cyber Security Challenge Masterclass 2014. They secured their much-coveted spots in March’s showdown by infiltrating and taking control of fictional airport security systems during a face-to-face challenge held at QinetiQ, in Farnborough, the last of the live competitions in the current programme from the Cyber Security Challenge UK.

The contest, developed by the global defence and technology company, brought together some of the country’s most talented amateur cyber defenders to prove they have the skills to become part of the UK’s online security force. Candidates were tasked with exploring a fictional airport security system; identifying vulnerabilities; using them to take control of the airport CCTV; covertly observing the arrival of a VIP; and finally patching up the 'holes' to prevent rival teams attacking them and undermining their hard work.

The winning team comprised Senga Lawley, Anthony Snowball, Joseph Greenwood and Thomas Haskins; and the overall individual winner of the QinetiQ competition, assessed as the highest performer on the day, was Jim Halfpenny, a technical specialist working with companies that use huge volumes of data.

Jim said: "It’s been an awesome challenge – everything today is new and exciting for me. It’s been extremely intense and the combination of building something that works, and then defending it has been a unique experience. I’m so delighted to be the winner against all of these contestants because the overall calibre today has been so high. The Masterclass is next and the mystery surrounding its location and set up makes it something special.”

Cyber Security Challenge at QinetiQ, Farnborough

The QinetiQ Challenge was the latest push by the UK cyber security community to address a lack of skilled workers leading the UK's fight against cybercrime. It forms part of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, a series of national competitions finding talented people to enter top jobs in cyber security. Currently in its fourth series of competitions, the Challenge has seen thousands of talented people tackle its games, handed out over £200,000 of career enabling prizes, and watched many of its successful players make the step into their first jobs as cyber security professionals.

Dr Mary Haigh, Head of Cyber Defence at QinetiQ, said; “We’re very proud to be a part of the Cyber Security Challenge and to have hosted a face-to-face competition developed by our Cyber experts. The competition is a great way to uncover talented, much needed, IT security professionals of the future and we were very impressed with the calibre of candidates.”

Despite competing in teams, each competitor was also assessed individually to evaluate their suitability for a place at the Masterclass final in March where Jim will be joined by fellow QinetiQ weekend qualifiers, Joseph Greenwood, Robert Cook, John North, Antony Semonella, Mark Robinson, David Mound, and Paul O’Neill.

Representing the conclusion of this latest Cyber Security Challenge, the Masterclass, developed by BT, GCHQ and the National Crime Agency, is where the new UK Cyber Security Champion will be crowned.

For more information please contact our media team: media@cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk

Cyber Security Challenge UK runs a series of national inspirational competitions aimed at attracting talented people into the profession and informing them about cyber security careers and learningopportunities. Now in its fourth year it is running an ambitious programme of competitions and activities designed to spread the word about why cyber security is such a fulfilling and varied career and help talented people get their first cyber security jobs. It is sponsored by some of the UK’s most prestigious public, private and academic organisations and is making a notable difference to the career prospects of those with the talents and aptitude to become cyber security professionals.

QinetiQ People Who Know How
QinetiQ face-to-face cyber battle identifies last set of Cyber Security Challenge Masterclass finalists