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BT Tower plays host to simulated cyber terrorists

Raytheon UK designed and hosted a simulated cyber terrorist strike on Saturday at London’s iconic BT Tower.

In a bid to unearth new talent to defend the UK against growing cyber threats, the online battle, part of the Government-backed Cyber Security Challenge UK, tested some of the UK’s finest amateurs and their ability to defend physical infrastructure from sophisticated cyber-crime groups.

With a performance assessed by experts from Raytheon UK, GCHQ, the National Crime Agency, BT, C3IA and Airbus Group, the cyber attack simulation challenged future cyber security professionals on their ability to defend against a real-time cyber threat, designed to mimic the infamous Heartbleed and Shellshock cyber attacks.

The demonstration emulated a realistic cyber attack and saw challengers infiltrate a model server system to win back control of a large building’s power supply. On outsmarting the fictitious hacking group, the Flagday Associates, the BT Tower’s observation deck revolved to celebrate the winning team’s success.

The winning team on the day was made up of Adam Tonks, a student from Cirencester currently studying at Bournemouth University; Darren Brooke, an IT consultant, from Pontypridd, South Wales; Robert Laverick, who runs a software development consultancy in Redcar; and Steve Haughton, a network manger from Cardiff. They each receive a range of prizes including Raspberry Pi 2 devices and Xbox Ones.

The amateur code-breakers – selected from over nine months of intensive national assessments – were analysed on their ability to use some of the cyber security industry’s finest crime-fighting tools, from cryptography to Kali-Linux.

In addition the ten best performers on the day have been offered places at the Challenge’s grand final – The Masterclass next month – where finalists from all four of the Challenge’s competitions will come together in London to take part in the UK’s largest ever simulated cyber attack.

Stephanie Daman, CEO at the Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “The recent Carbanak attack that plundered global banks show that the economic cost of cyber-crime is continually rising. The resources that UK industry leaders are now investing to attract new talent through events like these indicate that they are taking the threat to our economy very seriously. The industry is dedicated to finding new ways to address the critical talent shortage across Britain, as we see rising cyber-crime posing a threat to UK assets and even critical infrastructure.”

Raytheon UK’s head of cyber research, Paul Crichard, said: “With crime and terror escalating online, we need a new generation of digital defence warriors ready to face these threats. We designed this contest to mimic the high-pressure emergency situations that real-world professionals have to deal with, and show gifted people who may just enjoy code-breaking or reverse engineering as a hobby, that their talents are actually vital to the UK economy.

“The skills and enthusiasm on display in these competitions show the wealth of innovation the UK could be tapping into. We are now working on new ways to grow this talent pipeline across the UK; Raytheon recently launched a new cyber innovation competition aimed at UK SMEs with prizes totalling £100,000.”

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