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31 Jan 2011

Cyber Security Challenge UK unveils remaining finalists

Sophos and SANS Institute Treasure Hunt Competition Uncovers Hidden Pool of Talent

The winner of the Sophos and SANS Institute Cyber Security Challenge Treasure Hunt was announced on Saturday following the penultimate event, which was held at Sophos’s headquarters in Oxfordshire. This stage of the competition saw 25 finalists pitting themselves against real-world malware challenges set by SophosLabs' world leading security experts.

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This weekend’s competition was the last of three stages that make up the road to the 2010 Cyber Security Challenge UK final.

As with the earlier competitions, Sophos found the standard of competitors taking part in the Treasure Hunt to be extremely high.

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As well as the accolade of winning this competition, Simon Walker, a software consultant from Tring, has also won a place in the Challenge’s final - The Masterclass - to be hosted in Bristol at HP Labs in March 2011.

Simon will be joined by other high-ranking participants for the chance to be crowned the UK’s Cyber Security Champion including today’s runners up Alan Steer, an IT support worker from Rugby who came second, and Jack Dipper, an RAF engineering officer from Suffolk who came third.

All will be awarded prizes from a pool of career-building and education-focused awards, including internships and other opportunities with leading companies, bursaries at Universities and SANS Institute and 7Safe training.

The charge towards next year’s Cyber Security Challenge UK has already begun. Registrations for the UK Category of the DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge set by the US Department for Defence is already open. Anyone interested in testing their mettle should visit the Cyber Security Challenge website.

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Winners’ quotes:

“I’m stunned,” says winner Simon Walker. “I entered Treasure Hunt on the advice of a colleague and I didn’t see myself as a serious contender. It’s a shock. Now I’ve won I am really looking forward to seeing what I can do in the final come March 5th.”

”I’ve been interested in cyber security for more than five years but I’ve never had an opportunity to assess my abilities – until now,” says Alan Steer, who came second overall in the Treasure Hunt competition. “I’m looking forward to the Masterclass now. I’ve got no idea what to expect but I suspect it’s going to be a real test.”

Security Minister’s Quote:

“I am delighted to see that Cyber Security Challenge is flourishing and has now reached the face-to-face phase,” said the Rt Hon Baroness Neville-Jones DCMG, Minister of State for Security and Counter-Terrorism. “The quality of contestants is impressive, and I look forward to seeing the national finalists in early March when this year’s champion is crowned, and the superb selection of career-enhancing awards are offered to our cyber security talent. Protecting our interests in cyberspace is vital for the economic well-being of the UK and for our National Security. To undertake this important work in the private and public sectors, we need an expanded cadre of cyber security professionals. This initiative is a wonderful example of innovative and necessary collaboration between the Government and Industry to tackle the complex array of threats and risks that we all face daily in cyberspace. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity the thank all of the sponsors of this year’s competitions for their ingenuity, hard work and financial support.”

Sophos Quote:

“I am just really impressed with the quality of the candidates,” said James Lyne, senior technologist at Sophos and a member of the Challenge Board. “It was smashing to meet everyone face to face and be infected with their talent and enthusiasm. With UK Government pouring £650 million into national cyber security, there is no question that these skills are in high demand. In 2010, Sophos analysed every day a staggering 95,000 new pieces of malware, some specifically targeting government organisations. My hope is that this challenge will encourage others to consider cyber security as a phenomenal career option.”

About the Challenge

The Cyber Security Challenge UK is a series of online and face-to-face competitions designed by leading security, education and government organisations as a response to the worrying shortage of skilled professionals in the cyber security sector. It was launched by Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, the Security Minister at the end of July 2010 and three competitions were immediately opened for registration – the SANS and Sophos Treasure Hunt; the QinetiQ Network Defence competition; and the US Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) Digital Forensics Challenge.