Daily Archives: 21/08/2014

GCHQ and Cyber Security Challenge UK test public’s ability to prevent cyber terror attack

GCHQ is today calling on the UK public to protect a fictitious aerospace technology company threatened by imminent attack from cyber terrorists.

‘Assignment: Astute Explorer’ is the latest game to be devised by the Cyber Security Challenge UK, the Government-backed project designed to run an inspirational series of national competitions aimed at attracting talented people into the profession and informing them about cyber security careers.

The latest process affords members of the public a chance to act like a GCHQ operative, using their cyber security skills to investigate and attempt to fix the vulnerabilities of a global defence company ahead of a forewarned cyber attack.

Earlier this year, the Cyber Security Challenge UK launched its 2014-2015 programme of online and face-to-face cyber games by introducing a new enemy, The Flag Day Associates, via a threat video that warned of future cyber attacks against the UK. The Challenge’s first recurring characters, the investigation and defence against this new nemesis forms the basis of this year’s competitions.

The Cyber Security Challenge UK: testing the public's cyber skills

The Cyber Security Challenge UK: testing the public’s cyber skills

‘Astute Explorer’ follows on from an assignment set by global security software vendor Sophos which, over this past weekend, tasked the public to analyse a hard drive recovered from The Flag Day Associates. The hundreds of candidates who tackled the Sophos-devised competition revealed plans for a future attack on ‘Ebell Technologies’ – described as an aerospace and electrical engineering company who are world leaders in the production of military and civilian aircraft, green energy technologies (such as wind turbines) and a variety of electronics products.

In launching its new game, the Challenge has revealed that Ebell Technologies is understandably concerned about the threat of an imminent attack and has thus approached GCHQ to assess its susceptibility to being compromised. As part of the analysis, GCHQ’s ‘Astute Explorer’ – an automated code scanning tool after which the game is named – has returned various snippets of code that may contain vulnerabilities. Those who take up the challenge will be asked to identify these vulnerabilities, explain why and how they could be exploited and suggest appropriate fixes.

Need for a skilled cyber security workforce

“As the UK’s National Technical Authority for Information Assurance (NTAIA), GCHQ is pleased to have been able to develop an original game for the Cyber Security Challenge UK,” explained Chris Ensor, deputy director for the NTAIA. “We have designed ‘Astute Explorer’ to really test candidates’ cyber security skills. We absolutely recognise the need for a skilled workforce which is why we’re delighted to once again support the Cyber Security Challenge UK and help inspire the next generation of cyber security talent.”

Those who register will be competing to book their place at the Challenge’s first of a series of reconnaissance meet-ups organised as part of ‘Operation: Flag Day’. Here, the most impressive candidates from the virtual assignments will be asked to report for duty in person at secret locations around the UK to carry out investigations face-to-face in teams.

As well as uncovering vital clues on the objectives and identities of The Flag Day Associates, these gatherings will ultimately determine the final line-up of online defenders to take on the cyber terrorist group at next year’s Masterclass final.

“There’s no doubt that ‘Astute Explorer’ is an ingenious game from GCHQ which will not only provide an enjoyable challenge but also test skills that are in high demand by employers in this sector,” said Stephanie Daman, CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge UK. “I would encourage anyone with an interest in how IT systems and the information they hold can be protected to sign up and give it a go.”

Series of national competitions

As stated, the 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 learning opportunities.

Now in its fourth year, the Challenge 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 obtain their first cyber security job.

The Challenge is sponsored by some of the UK’s most prestigious public, private and academic sector organisations and already making a notable difference to the career prospects of those with the talents and aptitude to become cyber security professionals.

Further detail is available at: https://cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk/

GCHQ is, of course, one of the three UK intelligence agencies. Further information on its work can be found at: http://www.gchq.gov.uk

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Raytec introduces bespoke graduate trainee programme

Raytec has welcomed the arrival of five high-calibre graduates as part of a new graduate trainee programme designed to support and foster the company’s growth and commitment to lighting innovation for security and safety critical applications.

The new graduates – Ben Chipping, Callum Ryder, Deepak Ghosh, Jazmin Adams and Michael Steel (pictured below under UV light) – will engage in a two-year programme of exciting live projects in different areas of the business, taking on roles in sales, marketing, product design and R&D.

Raytec's new graduate recruits under IR

Raytec’s new graduate recruits under IR

The introduction of the programme further demonstrates Raytec’s commitment to investing in people. The graduates arrive full of new ideas and with the enthusiasm, drive and creativity necessary to make a significant impact on business growth and profitability while also nurturing their own professional development during the course of the programme.

Ben, Callum, Deepak, Jazmin and Michael are initially based at Raytec’s UK headquarters) and looking forward to making a positive impact on the business.

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Skyguard equips Brent Council’s lone workers with personal alarms

Skyguard is providing Brent Council’s front line lone working staff with 24-hour back-up and assistance. The Council’s employees are now able to raise an alarm at any time via the solutions provider’s ACPO-accredited MySOS personal safety device (which offers a simple yet effective way to call for help in any emergency scenario).

Brent Council provides a wide range of community services to the public within its inner London Borough boundary. Some of these services require the Council’s employees to work alone, and occasionally in difficult circumstances.

Conscious of its Duty of Care towards the safety and well-being of all staff members, Brent Council needed a form of personal protection for its lone workers. The requirement was for a small, easy-to-use personal alarm which enables the user to discreetly raise an alarm should they face any difficulties.

MySOS – Europe’s smallest personal alarm – comes fully equipped with the latest mobile phone and tracking technology. At the touch of a button, the Council’s employees can quickly and discreetly call for help.

Upon alarm activation, controllers at Skyguard’s 24-hour Incident Management Centre can see who’s calling for help. They’ll use the two-way audio capability to listen in and assess the situation, talk to and reassure the system end user and action the appropriate emergency response.

The MySOS lone worker protection device

The MySOS lone worker protection device

As the MySOS solution is fitted with GPS tracking technology, controllers can see the user’s exact position as shown via an on-screen map. This is vital for guiding emergency response to the right location. What’s more, all calls and actions are digitally recorded and can be used as legal evidence.

Alarms may be raised when the MySOS’ ‘Man Down’ feature detects a slip, trip or heavy impact. Again, this is vital if the employee is unable to call for help themselves.

Skyguard’s service is fully audited and approved against BS 8484:2011 and, as such, guarantees the highest level of police response when required. Skyguard will also bypass the 999 emergency system, saving what may be crucial minutes in responding to an emergency.

Why Brent Council opted for MySOS

Mike Somers, regeneration officer for Brent Council, explained why the organisation chose Skyguard’s solution.

“Right from the start,” stated Somers, “we found Skyguard’s advice helpful and informative. The sheer helpfulness from meeting with them and the team advising us in terms of what was best for our needs stood out.”

Somers continued: “When it comes to the MySOS devices, they are issued to staff working on housing estates and visiting various site locations. Staff can contact Skyguard’s controllers at any time they are on their visits and the alarm will use various mobile phone network suppliers to ensure they remain in contact. Some lone working products do not have the facility to do this.”

Skyguard’s marketing director Will Murray added: “In the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed a dramatic change in perception as regards the personal protection of employees, notably from local authorities. With legislation continuing to evolve, organisations – be they operational in the public or private sector – can no longer afford to ignore the safety and well-being of their lone workers.”

Murray concluded: “We now work with over 75 Councils nationwide in safeguarding their lone workers. That total includes many long-term customers, and it’s a number that continues to grow on a monthly basis.”

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Independent review on firefighters’ conditions of service opened by the Government

Fire minister Penny Mordaunt has launched an independent review to ensure that firefighters’ conditions of service support their front line work of preventing fire and protecting the public.

The review will be led by Adrian Thomas, an expert in the field of personnel management and staff resourcing. Thomas will now consult extensively with fire and rescue authorities, firefighters and representative bodies and report back in February 2015.

A report written by former fire chief Sir Ken Knight – entitled: ‘Facing the Future’ and published last year – outlined how improvements could be made to front line services if firefighters’ conditions of service were reviewed.

This review will consider whether the current Terms and Conditions are conducive to building the fire and rescue service of the future and look at national arrangements for agreeing conditions around:

*management practices and crewing arrangements
*collaboration and integration with other emergency services
*the use of on call firefighters
*clarity of process in the fair recruitment and remuneration of chief fire officers and fire officers

Penny Mordaunt MP

Penny Mordaunt MP

Official national statistics show that fire deaths in England have continued to fall, with 5% fewer deaths than last year continuing a trend that has witnessed a near 40% drop since 2004.

The figures also show that, last year, fire and rescue services attended 170,000 fires – the second lowest number of fire incidents ever recorded.

Launching the review, Penny Mordaunt MP commented: “Firefighters put their lives on the line every day and deserve a workplace that’s fully focused on fire prevention and protection. We have a responsibility to each and every firefighter to make sure their conditions of service, some of which are decades old, fully support the challenges modern firefighters face every day.”

Mordaunt added: “This review will involve a massive piece of evidence gathering, in particular from firefighters themselves as they have the expertise and ideas to take the service forward. I hope as many firefighters as possible will contribute. The process will give fire chiefs an up-to-date assessment of the workplace around which they can then implement lasting improvements so that firefighters may continue to serve the needs of their communities to the best of their abilities for years to come.”

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