Tag Archives: Cyber Security Challenge UK

CREST bestows first lifetime Fellowships in recognition of outstanding achievements

CREST – the not-for-profit accreditation body representing the technical information security industry – has awarded its first lifetime CREST Fellowships in recognition of outstanding achievement or contribution to CREST and the technical information security industry in general.

“With support from those who hold CREST qualifications, CREST member companies and industry influencers, CREST has grown rapidly into an internationally recognised body with the highest levels of technical standards and governance, a strong Code of Ethics and a reputation for action and the ability to deliver,” explained Ian Glover, president of the organisation.  “That’s why the introduction of the annual Fellowships is so important as they are a way of recognising and thanking individuals who’ve made a significant contribution to build CREST and professionalise the cyber security industry.”

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In addition to the Fellowships awarded to CREST members, further awards have been presented to recognise contributions from industry, Government and academia. These included awards for Buck Rogers (CISO of the Bank of England), Chris Ensor and Harry W from the National Cyber Security Centre and a posthumous accolade for Stephanie Damon of the Cyber Security Challenge UK whose award was accepted on the night by Nigel Harrison. Special contribution awards were also given to Adriana Costa McFadden from CREST and Allie Andrews of PRPR.

This year’s ceremony and dinner took place at the Tanner Warehouse in Bermondsey, with Ian Glover presenting the awards alongside CREST’s chairman Mark Tuner and ex-chairman Paul Midian.

Other CREST fellows for 2017 include Abhijeet Udas, Alex Church, Andrew Davies, Arjun Pednekar, Daniele Costa, Dave Hartley, Dom Beecher, Dominic Chell, Ed Williams, Edward Torkington, Gabriel Caudrelier, Gary O’Leary-Steele, Gavin Jones, Gemma Moore, Geoff Jones, Greg Rudd (CREST Australia), Ian Lovering, John O’Meara, Jonathan Roach, Joseph Hart, Marcus Pinto, Mark Harrison, Mark Raeburn, Martin Law, Michael Woodhead, Paul Beechey, Paul Docherty, Paul Midian, Paul Vlissidis, Richard Dean, Rory McCune, Simon Clow, Stuart Criddle and Tobias Clarke.

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BT to lead creation of 2017 Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass

Cyber security experts from BT, Airbus, the National Crime Agency, the Bank of England, Cisco, McAfee, Checkpoint, De Montfort University’s Cyber Technology Institute and 4PumpCourt have announced that they will stage “the most advanced Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass ever” on 12-14 November in London.

Spanning two-and-a-half days, Masterclass is the culmination of a year’s worth of nationwide face-to-face and online competitions designed to unearth and nurture new talent for the cyber security industry and address a critical skills shortage that affects Government, businesses and the public.

Led by BT in partnership with Airbus, the competition will see dozens of the UK’s top cyber enthusiasts face each other in a battle that will test their capabilities to deal with cyber attacks and their understanding of business know-how. The challenges will evaluate contestants’ technical, business and soft skills, in turn mirroring the different ways in which professionals communicate today.

This year’s Masterclass will demonstrate how cyber security can be an accessible career choice that has a number of different facets and pathways. BT recently identified 87 different roles in the cyber security industry, each requiring a different skill set, which will be reflected in this year’s competition.

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Highly experienced professionals from Government as well as public and private sector organisations across the country will judge the contestants for a number of aptitudes that will rank their suitability for jobs in the sector. The best performing candidate will be crowned Cyber Security Challenge UK Champion.

Thousands of pounds’ worth of career-enabling prizes will be issued to those who take in the finale including training courses, tech equipment and even a fully paid-for Master’s degree sponsorship at De Montfort University, allowing one lucky contestant the chance to study for an MSc in Cyber Security.

Over the years, more than half of the contestants in the Challenge’s face-to-face and Masterclass competitions have moved into jobs in the industry after demonstrating their skills in front of assessors.

Competitions like this are crucial for identifying top quality recruits that could reduce the skills deficit. Industry association (ISC)2 predicts the skills gap will reach 1.8 million unfilled positions by 2022, leaving a lack of professionals able to defend our infrastructure from hackers.

Nigel Harrison, acting CEO at Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “This year’s consortium of sponsors is working on taking Masterclass to the next level, adding new dimensions and levels of game-play that we’ve yet to see in our competitions to date. We’re always trying to match our challenges to the way in which industry is evolving and ensure that they test for the skills industry requires. We look forward to seeing how the finalists fare in a modern cyber security scenario.”

Rob Partridge, head of BT’s Cyber Academy, added: “Filling the cyber security skills deficit is immensely important for the long-term safety of the UK’s digital economy. We need to make sure that industry and Government are collaborating such that young people are engaged and switched on to the breadth of roles in cyber security and the various career paths available to them. These competitions are vitally important for unearthing hidden talent and helping to develop the next generation of UK cyber talent to the standard being set in many other countries.”

Kevin Jones, head of cyber security architecture and innovation at Airbus, explained: “In order to continue protecting vital UK infrastructure and businesses from both current and future cyber threats, it’s particularly important that we address the skills shortage. Competitions such as Cyber Security Challenge UK help to provide a safe and representative environment for contestants to gain experience and learn from industry experts, which in turn will help them understand the variety of skills needed and the careers available within the cyber security sector.”

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STEM prodigies battle it out in competition to find UK’s next generation of cyber security talent

This year’s CyberCenturion winners are from St Paul’s School, Barnes in London. The school’s two teams scooped both first and second place, with Team B winning the competition and Team A finishing second. The day-long cyber defence competition was led by global security company Northrop Grumman and the Cabinet Office-backed Cyber Security Challenge UK. The national finals follow months of gruelling online qualifiers between over 100 teams from across the UK and overseas territories.

The candidates were tasked with defending a start-up drone-based food delivery service – named ‘Always Food Available’ – using their evolving cyber security skills to identify vulnerabilities in the company’s network and systems, repair the vital issues and maintain the company’s services, while also fending off adversaries.

“Congratulations to our winning team,” said Nigel Harrison, acting COO and co-founder of the Cyber Security Challenge UK. “They emerged victorious after a day of intense competition. The next CyberCenturion is now open for registration and we would like to encourage more young people to consider taking part. With an increasing number of processes and jobs becoming digitally-focused, it’s vital that we find workers to protect our connected world, whether they’re intelligence officers supporting the Government’s hunt for criminals or network engineers protecting the launch systems of spacecraft.”

The winning team received 16 Pi-top CEED kits for their school to help further promote STEM and cyber careers and provide them with a competitive edge for their future careers.

“The enthusiasm of the participants and the high standards among the teams in the finals has been impressive to see,” said Andrew Tyler, CEO at Northrop Grumman Europe. “We congratulate all of the finalists on their accomplishments, wish them success and look forward to the positive impact they can make in addressing the global security challenges of the future.”

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Tyler went on to state: “There’s a severe shortage of diverse young people entering careers in STEM subjects, and it’s up to industry leaders like Northrop Grumman to help rectify that situation. Through CyberCenturion, we’re helping to inspire and build a diverse workforce that addresses this global imperative.”

With the backing of founding sponsors like the SANS Institute, the Challenge started out in 2010 to create a series of virtual and face-to-face competitions that would identify talented people for the cyber security industry.

Now in its eighth year, the Challenge is backed by over 50 of the UK’s most prestigious public, private and academic organisations, and hosts a wide programme of activities designed to spread the word about why cyber security is such a fulfilling and varied career while also helping talented people to access their first cyber security jobs.

Working with those at schools and universities and individuals looking to change careers, the Challenge is making a notable difference to the career prospects of people with the talent and aptitude to become cyber security professionals.

*For further information access https://cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk/

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UK Government announces further measures to boost cyber security defences in the UK

On Friday 12 December, Francis Maude – Minister for the Cabinet Office – hosted an event at the Institute for Chartered Accountants of England and Wales in central London marking the third anniversary of the UK’s Cyber Security Strategy. On the day, Maude unveiled several additional measures being put forward by the Government to assist in safeguarding the online space for all citizens.

The event was designed specifically to address leaders in industry, academia and Government and highlight ways in which the UK is building skills to boost its growing cyber security sector. It follows hot on the heels of a report to Parliament on progress and forward plans scripted to make the UK one of the safest places in which to do business online.

Increasing the number of people with the right cyber skills is vital for both Government and industry as the UK collectively faces the reality of cyber threats. The Government’s work to improve the UK’s cyber security defences is led by the Cabinet Office, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and, of course, GCHQ.

Maude announced that the Government has committed to:

*Grants for colleges and universities in Birmingham, Liverpool, Lancashire and Newcastle that will improve cyber security education and learning (the grants being realised in partnership with companies including Barclays Bank and Hut Group, the online retailer)
*New cyber camps and mentoring schemes run in conjunction with the Cyber Security Challenge UK and the Cyber Growth Partnership to help computing graduates gain practical experience and begin a career in cyber security
*Cryptoy: a new and innovative Android app designed by students on placements at GCHQ to highlight exciting developments in cipher and code-breaking for a new generation of cyber specialists
*A virtual hub operated in conjunction with the Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (CREST) that’s ultimately designed to inspire students towards cyber security careers and provide advice and information on job opportunities
*New cyber security careers resources for students within the Graduate Prospects careers website
*An updated guide for business on the cyber security skills initiatives that will help develop the skills of their own staff members and nurture future talent

“As part of this Government’s long-term economic plan,” stated Francis Maude, “we want to ensure that Britain is one of the safest places in which to do business online. Over the past three years, we’ve taken a strategic approach to improving cyber security, working with others to deliver schools programmes. We’ve also certified six Masters degrees and established two centres for doctoral training alongside 11 Academic Centres of Excellence.”

The MP continued: “Given the work of Alan Turing and Bletchley Park in days gone by, the UK has a proud heritage in cryptography and computer science. Today, no less than 40,000 people work in our cyber industry and we have 14 cyber security ‘clusters’ across the country, but we do want to develop greater skills and encourage more people to pursue a career in this growth area.”

Maude concluded: “We do hope the Cryptoy app will spark a new interest among individuals to pursue a career in cyber security. Our new cyber camps, mentors and Higher Education Academy grants will help more people when it comes to embarking on a cyber security career.”

Read the minister’s speech in full

Francis Maude MP delivering his speech at the Institute for Chartered Accountants in England Wales, central London

Francis Maude MP delivering his speech at the Institute for Chartered Accountants in England Wales, central London

UK’s cyber security talent pool

Stephanie Daman, CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, responded to the MP’s speech by stating: “This announcement highlights the Government’s ongoing commitment to improving the size and quality of the UK’s cyber security talent pool. It also demonstrates a real understanding of the fact that addressing our cyber security skills gap requires a sustained programme of targeted support for innovative programmes and initiatives that are inspiring the next generation of cyber professionals.”

Daman added: “Government’s support now spans a huge range of opportunities, from innovative tools such as Cryptoy to a national mentoring programme and a raft of new cyber camps designed to inspire budding cyber defenders. As a country, we’re now creating extraordinary opportunities for young people who demonstrate the aptitude and appetite to forge successful and rewarding careers in cyber security. I’m encouraged that, with the continued backing of Government, UK businesses and academia we’re doing exactly what’s required to future-proof the cyber security capabilities of the UK.”

Mark Hughes, president of BT Security, explained: “Making certain that security’s right and protecting businesses, Government and the general public against cyber attacks is vitally important. Data breaches and attacks are an everyday threat to business and, with the UK cyber security industry now worth £6 billion a year, it’s critical that we build a pipeline of talented people to fill the gap in skills we’re currently experiencing.”

Hughes went on to say: “Recruiting into the industry is notoriously difficult. On that basis, it’s critical that we engage in strategic activity that helps find the right people, prepares them for jobs in the industry, trains them and makes them ready to take on key roles in the cyber security profession.”

In conclusion, Hughes outlined: “It’s for this reason that BT is proud to be supporting the cyber camps and mentoring schemes announced by Francis Maude. It’s not enough that we concentrate on developing the workforce of today. If we’re to build and maintain resilient infrastructure in the UK then we simply must develop the workforce of the future. BT is fully committed to helping create that workforce.”

Professor Stephanie Marshall, CEO of the Higher Education Academy, also voiced opinion on the matter. “If the UK is to be equipped to respond to cyber threats,” opined Marshall, “we need to strengthen the pipeline of cyber talent and help prepare students for entry-level security career opportunities. The Higher Education Academy is pleased to be able to offer support to higher education providers when it comes to developing innovative projects involving strong partnership with businesses that will improve cyber security teaching and learning across the discipline of computing and the sectors beyond.”

Marshall also explained: “All four projects launched at this event have the potential to do this, thereby helping to improve the skills of graduates, address the shortage of cyber security skills and future-proof the country’s IT sector, in turn making it more resilient to possible cyber attacks.”

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UK civilians and military personnel learn to defend against online attacks at cyber training camp

After two days of intense hands-on training and development, a new potential generation of UK cyber security defenders (including members of the public and military personnel) have been tested to see if they have what it takes to protect their country from online attacks.

Held at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham, the Cyber Security Challenge UK’s new cyber camp was delivered by a number of the UK’s most prestigious cyber defence companies to help attendees gain foundation skills and confidence to take their first steps into the cyber security profession.

The assessment on Friday 29 August was devised by cyber security operatives from GCHQ and witnessed brave candidates assemble a cyber team battling to overcome the threat of a cyber terrorist group, the Flag Day Associates, who have been staging a number of attacks in the UK over recent months.

The latest incident was reported by the central security team at Parliament Square, a large central London meeting and conferencing space known to host classified gatherings characterised by high secrecy and sensitivity. The team confirmed that the web-based application that controls their intelligent building management software had been targeted and successfully compromised.

The cyber students in action

The cyber students in action

Under the guidance of mentors from GCHQ and other industry experts, as well as previous Challenge candidates, the cyber camp recruits were assessed on their ability to run penetration testing as part of a full security assessment of the web application in order to identify the vulnerabilities that may have been exploited by the attackers.

To prepare them for this test, the cyber camp recruits were taken through two days of training administered by some of the country’s leading cyber security experts.

Content details of the cyber camp

The cyber camp programme was put together by the Challenge with the support of C3IA Solutions (who provide information risk management training and cyber security services for the MoD, the Government and industry) and included:

• Defence, aerospace and security expert QinetiQ introducing cyber camp attendees to the principles of risk assessment and management
• Forensic technology teams at PricewaterhouseCoopers running lessons on digital forensic analysis
• Introductions to business continuity management and security architecture provided by worldwide information security training and education company Infosec Skills (two further modules were completed online ahead of the cyber camp)
• Web application security testing instruction courtesy of cyber security services and solutions specialist IRM
• A module on vulnerability research from Raytheon, the technology and innovation leader specialising in defence and national security
• An interactive session on legal and ethical practice within cyber security delivered by the National Crime Agency

The final stage of the cyber camp witnessed candidates sitting their first professional qualification – the Certificate in Information Assurance Awareness (CIAA) – free of charge. This came courtesy of InfoSec Skills and its examination provider, the Global Certification Institute (GCI).

Cyber camp attendees who performed particularly well were granted places on the new CESG-accredited Cyber Scheme Team Member course.

Growing skills gap in cyber security

The Cyber Security Challenge UK began in 2010 as three competitions run by a small group of supporters from industry, Government and academia designed to address the growing skills gap in the UK cyber security profession.

Now in its fifth year, the Challenge has grown its range of competitions to better represent the variety of skills currently demanded within the profession and is backed by over 75 sponsors from across UK Government (including through its National Cyber Security Programme) as well as major names from industry and academia.

Challenging cyber attackers in among the tanks at Shrivenham

Challenging cyber attackers in among the tanks at Shrivenham

The cyber camps are a more recent addition to the Challenge competition programme. They sit alongside a variety of exciting virtual competitions and provide a first opportunity for candidates to begin crafting their skills.

Stephanie Daman, CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, commented: “Last year’s inaugural cyber camps showed the demand from amateurs to be given the opportunity to break into this field. The camps afford everyday civilians the chance to see what it’s really like to work as a professional in this sector, and what’s involved in defending the UK from ever-growing cyber attacks.”

Daman added: “Talented individuals learn from the best in the industry and, by dint of receiving a qualification for their efforts, they’re provided with a genuine career-enhancing experience. This sector needs more people with talent and skills and all of those involved in this cyber camp will have enjoyed a truly unforgettable experience.”

Kevin Williams, head of partnerships at the National Crime Agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit, stated: “We are proud to be part of this year’s cyber security camp and help to inspire the next generation of specialists to think about a career in cyber security. Our officers tested the skills, technical ability, knowledge and understanding of the candidates to see whether they have what it takes to defend the UK and its citizens from cyber-related attacks. We look forward to continuing our support for the Cyber Security Challenge UK over the coming months.”

Virtual competitions and foundation modules

Terry Neal, CEO at InfoSec Skills, explained: “We’re delighted to support the Challenge through our virtual competitions and foundation modules in IA Governance and IA Architecture delivered during the cyber camp. We hope to inspire the next generation of cyber specialists and help to get them started on their career paths in Information Assurance.”

Charles White, CEO of IRM, said: “Watching the cyber camp recruits learn and compete while surrounded by the physical history of the British Armed Forces illustrates the extent to which the Internet has transformed our lives and how, as a society, we must respond to that change. Where once we had tanks and large armies to defend our nation, we now have skilled and tenacious individuals who thrive on a technical challenge – the UK’s Armed Forces for a Digital Age, if you like.”

On an equally serious note, White also commented: “At this time there is a severe deficit of qualified individuals who are capable of assessing and improving our cyber security defences. If our citizens, Government and businesses want to stay safe in cyber space while also continuing to reap the economic and social benefits it brings then more effort has to be invested in nurturing cyber security talent.”

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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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Bucks New University to host first regional cyber security event

Buckinghamshire New University is to host a regional cyber security recruitment and showcase event at its High Wycombe Campus aimed at attracting new people to what is a growing industry.

The Cyber Security Challenge UK is holding the free event at the University’s Campus in Queen Alexandra Road, High Wycombe from 10.00 am-5.00 pm on Friday 4 July.

The day is designed for anyone with an interest in the cyber security sector, including school pupils making career choices, further and higher education students and those looking for a change of career.

The event comprises two half-day seminars, interactive sessions with the chance to play simulation computer games and the opportunity to meet cyber security employers from across the country who will be exhibiting and highlighting the range of roles available in the profession.

Bringing talented people into the profession

The Cyber Security Challenge UK aims to bring talented people into the profession and holds competitions and initiatives for people (including schoolchildren) to find out more about the industry.

Phil Wood MBE: head of the Departments of Security and Resilience and Computing at Bucks New University

Phil Wood MBE: head of the Departments of Security and Resilience and Computing at Bucks New University

Phil Wood MBE, head of the Departments of Security and Resilience and Computing at Bucks New University, will be introducing the first seminar. This is designed for local small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to inform them about cyber security threats, including details of Government initiatives to combat cyber crime.

The second seminar will be introduced by Professor Ruth Farwell (vice chancellor of Bucks New University) and is for girls and women considering a cyber security role. It’s aimed at people including those already in the industry who could share knowledge and experience, as well as businesses looking to encourage the recruitment and retention of women.

Phil Wood leads the development and delivery of resilience-related educational programmes at Bucks New University, including the Business Continuity Institute Diploma and MSc in Organisational Resilience.

“This is an exciting regional event showcasing what is offered in the cyber security industry,” commented Wood. “We would like as many people as possible to come along and find out how they could pursue a career in cyber security. With computer systems, the Internet and our use of mobiles as the basis of everything we do in business or in our social lives, there are growing threats to be faced by businesses and this brings an increased range of career opportunities aimed at dealing with them.”

Foundation Degree in Cyber Security

The event comes at a time when Bucks New University is also developing a new Foundation Degree in Cyber Security at its partner organisation, Aylesbury College, which is due to welcome its first students in September 2014.

The course is being delivered by Bucks New University and Aylesbury College through their partnership, Buckinghamshire Education Skills and Training (BEST), and places are still available.

A Cyber Security Centre is also set to be opened in September 2015 at The Aylesbury Centre, which will be a landmark £16.5 million education centre in Aylesbury led by Buckinghamshire New University, Aylesbury College and Aylesbury Vale District Council.

To find out more about the Cyber Security Challenge UK event and to reserve tickets visit: http://www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk/careers.php

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