Hidden talent pool of cyber security experts found by Sophos/SANS in Cyber Security Challenge

Sophos Press Release

OXFORD, UK - December 3, 2010 - The 25 successful contestants from round one of the Sophos/SANS Treasure Hunt – part of the Cyber Security Challenge UK – have now been identified from the thousands who entered and will go through to the next round. Among those 25, leading IT security and data protection firm, Sophos, and SANS, global providers of computer security training, believe they have come across a hidden pool of talent, so desperately needed in the industry.

The vast majority of the final 25 are currently employed, but only a handful are already working in the field of cyber security. There are also a number of students, all of which points to the fact that the cyber security talent urgently needed by the industry is already out there – it just has to be uncovered.

James Lyne, senior technologist at Sophos, said: "We have been very excited by the high standard of contestants taking part in the Treasure Hunt. Even outside of the top 25 there were some really good performances. The recent announcement of £650 million investment by the Government into national cyber security is another indicator of the increasing importance of computer security. SophosLabs alone sees 60,000 new examples of malware every day, including many specifically targeted at government organisations, so the problem is clearly not going away. Our hope is that the Cyber Security Challenge will drive more talented people to join the security industry."

Terry Neal, Director, EMEA at SANS added: "The Treasure Hunt is a great way to raise the profile of cyber security and help create a culture where the people needed to meet a skills shortage are brought to the forefront. The IT security industry has always been a game of cat and mouse, attack and defense and innovative projects can help people understand whether they have the right mindset and temperament to work in the industry."

Round one of the Treasure Hunt saw security enthusiasts spanning a range of ages and experience, competing to identify security flaws on a dummy website and answer a series of questions on its security issues. Points were awarded for the number of vulnerabilities found and questions answered correctly and competitors attained some impressive scores.

The top 25 contestants will now go through to a head-to-head competition at Sophos's global headquarters in Oxfordshire in January 2011. The best players from that round will gain places in the grand finale, when they will pit their cyber wits against the top players from the two other cyber security challenges. This will result in an overall champion and lots of winners. The prizes are all career enabling such as training courses and internships in leading companies.

About the Cyber Security Challenge

Supported by Minister for Security, Baroness Neville Jones, the Cyber Security Challenge is the UK's first national hunt for future cyber security professionals. The Challenge is a series of online and face-to-face competitions designed by leading security, education and government organisations in response to the lack of skills in the cyber security profession, and the growing challenge of how to increase the resilience of the UK's online presence with our existing human resources.

The Challenge is being sponsored by a broad group of renowned organisations in the fields of cyber security, education, industry and public sector. They include the Open University, Sophos, EADS Defence and Security, SANS Institute, Detica, QinetiQ and the Cabinet Office.

For more information, go to: www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk.

About SANS

More information on SANS London 2010, which takes place from November 27th to December 6th, is available at http://www.sans.org/London-2010.

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos’ complete security solutions as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Simple to deploy, manage, and use, Sophos’ award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions are backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers. Sophos is headquartered in Oxford, U.K., and is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol “SOPH.” More information is available at www.sophos.com/company.