BT stages simulated cyber-attack in search for new security talent

Last weekend, telecoms giant BT and the Cyber Security Challenge UK staged a mock investigation into a cyber-attack at London’s iconic BT Tower in a bid to find the country’s best hidden cyber security talent.

Twenty-four of the brightest candidates from a series of online qualifying rounds were invited to compete against each other to investigate how a fictitious retail company came under vicious cyber-attack, show off their abilities in front of prospective employers and qualify for the Challenge’s grand final Masterclass competition.

The event was the second face-to-face challenge in Cyber Security Challenge UK’s 2016 series of competitions, designed to find the UK’s best cyber security talent. Candidates were tasked to track down the perpetrators of a data breach who had siphoned of money using unauthorised bank transfers, physical compromise, LAN intrusion and point of sale devices.

All sponsor competitions are designed to reflect potential real-life cyber security scenarios. For example, the scenario developed by experts at BT mirrored techniques used by hackers in the infamous Target data breach, whereby point of sale devices were compromised to gain access to the network and expose the details of over 70 million customers.

Earlier this month, BT revealed that it plans to hire over 900 more people or employees this year to help defend against the hundreds of thousands of cyber-attacks it experiences every day. This situation is reflected in thousands of organisations around the world, and finding exceptional talent to fill these positions remains a difficulty. (ISC)2, the world’s largest independent body of information security professionals predicts a shortfall of 1.5 million workers by 2020 if current employment trends continue and it is critical that this is addressed in order to protect our country’s infrastructure.

Since the Challenge began in 2010, over half of attendees at the Cyber Security Challenge UK’s face-to-face and masterclass competitions have been hired, highlighting the effectiveness of these challenges. By comprehensively testing candidates’ abilities in a number of fields that are highly sought after by employers today, the Challenge’s sponsors have access to talent that would otherwise remain hidden.

The competition was closely monitored by BT’s security team and assessors from top cyber security organisations, who judged the candidates on how well they performed tasks in-line with industry best practice. The top performers in this event qualified for the Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass which takes place in November this year and pitches the top 42 candidates from the qualifying competitions against each other, to find this year’s ultimate cyber security defender.

“Cyber security has never been more important to BT, and as an industry, finding recruits to fill the ever-increasing roles we have opening up is the biggest hurdle we face in protecting our organisations, and in turn, our national infrastructure,” said Les Anderson, Vice President of Cyber at BT. “The skills that candidates have shown at these competitions over the years has proved that there are is a huge amount of untapped skill out there for us to access.”

Stephanie Daman, CEO of The Cyber Security Challenge UK said: “Our events are designed to accurately represent the scenarios that cyber security experts in the field experience on a day-to-day basis. The competition that BT has developed plays on current data breaches and hacking techniques and is designed to look for the skills that employers need today.”

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