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RUSI launches Strategic Hub for organised crime research in the UK and overseas

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has announced the launch of a new Strategic Hub designed to explore and tackle serious and organised crime by way of high level research. The new hub will develop a world class research agenda that meets the needs of both policy makers and practitioners in the field.

The Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research has been initiated in association with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Partnership for Crime, Conflict and Security within Research Councils UK.

The harmful impacts of organised crime in the UK are becoming more visible, from new areas such as cyber crime, trafficking in cultural objects and match fixing through to traditional activities like drug trafficking.

The cost of organised crime in the UK is estimated to be at least £24 billion, with a significant impact on communities, families and individuals. Further afield, organised crime undermines development assistance and contributes to instability.

In response, the Home Office has developed the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy and established the National Crime Agency. The strategy takes an holistic approach to organised crime, seeking to Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare.

RUSI has launched a Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research in association with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Partnership for Crime, Conflict and Security within Research Councils UK

RUSI has launched a Strategic Hub for Organised Crime Research in association with the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Partnership for Crime, Conflict and Security within Research Councils UK

Addressing gaps in understanding

Despite the Government’s renewed focus on combating organised crime, there are still gaps in the understanding of the scale and nature of organised crime in the UK and overseas, the effectiveness of strategies to disrupt it and pathways into and out of organised criminality. These gaps undermine attempts to address organised crime on a global basis.

The new Strategic Hub will fill this knowledge gap. Bringing together academic researchers and policy makers, the hub will create greater connectivity between policy concerns and rigorous enquiry.

Initially, the Strategic Hub will work with partners and the academic community to assess what strategies are effective at disrupting organised crime, what criminal markets look like and where the vulnerabilities lie in the system. The Hub also aims to develop new methodologies to examine these and related issues.

Priorities will be examined by policy makers, academics and researchers during a conference to be held at RUSI on 8 December 2014.

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International law enforcement deals major blow to Dark Web markets

Co-ordinated activity by law enforcement bodies in Europe and the US has targeted marketplaces for illegal commodities on The Dark Web – the ‘hidden’ areas of the Internet.

Working with police forces across the UK, the National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested six people on 6 November in strikes co-ordinated with international partners. Those arrested include suspected administrators for the online drug marketplace Silk Road 2.0 and another drug marketplace, as well as significant vendors of illegal drugs through The Dark Web.

Simultaneously, partners from the European Cybercrime Centre – acting on intelligence developed by US counterparts – took out technical infrastructure which is key to the hosting of illegal marketplaces on The Dark Web. In total, over 400 hidden services were taken down.

The six people arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs were a 20-year-old man from Liverpool city centre, a 19-year-old man from New Waltham in Lincolnshire, a 30-year-old man from Cleethorpes, a 29-year-old man from Aberdovey in Wales, a 58-year-old man from Aberdovey, Wales and a 58-year-old woman (again from Aberdovey in Wales). All six were interviewed and have been bailed pending further enquiries.

Silk Road 2.0 seized notice

Silk Road 2.0 seized notice

A large amount of computer equipment was seized at all the addresses searched and will now be forensically examined.

The action taken by the NCA and its partners across Europe and America is part of continuing operations to target the use of online marketplaces to trade in illegal commodities such as Class A drugs, firearms and false documents. Anyone who tries to access Silk Road 2.0 will now see a notice highlighting the site has been seized.

Roy McComb, deputy director of the National Crime Agency, commented: “Over the months since the original Silk Road was taken down, we have been working with partners in the US and Europe to locate technical infrastructure key to The Dark Web and to investigate individuals suspected of significant involvement in illegal online marketplaces. Those arrested by the NCA in this phase of the operation are suspected of setting up Silk Road 2.0, or of being significant vendors of illegal drugs.”

McComb continued: “The operation is ongoing and more arrests can be expected as we continue to investigate those involved in setting up and profiting from these illegal marketplaces. Criminals like to think that The Dark Web provides a safe, anonymous haven but in reality this is just like any other organised crime network. It may take time and effort to investigate and build a criminal case, but we’re determined to identify and prosecute people caught dealing drugs and committing serious crime using The Dark Web.”

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YouGov poll finds millions leave themselves open to scams as banks launch awareness campaign

The British Bankers Association is launching a fraud awareness campaign at a time when YouGov polling reveals that millions of people in Great Britain are unwittingly leaving themselves vulnerable to scams perpetrated by fraudsters posing as their bank.

The YouGov poll assessed customers’ responses to some of the common tactics used by criminals over the telephone, via e-mail or via text. Based on the answers, the British Bankers Association (BBA) calculates that people all over the country could fall foul of the most prevalent frauds around.

*Eight million individuals are vulnerable to ‘vishing’ or voice phishing
*Four million might transfer money into another supposed ‘safe’ account if instructed to do so
*Three million could be willing to carry out ‘test transactions’ online
*1.7 million would pass their bank card over to a courier on their doorstep if that courier were carrying some form of ID card

To counter this situation, the UK retail banks – with the support of law enforcement bodies including the City of London Police and the National Crime Agency – have produced a new leaflet and are launching an awareness drive called ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ in order to help their customers spot the difference between a legitimate call and one received from a fraudster.

The leaflet includes eight things your bank would never ask you (but a fraudster might), advice on how to avoid becoming a victim and instructions on what to do if you are caught out. It will be available across the country in bank branches and police stations and also on the ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ website at: http://www.knowfraud.co.uk

The BBA is launching a fraud awareness campaign as YouGov polling reveals that millions of people in Great Britain are unwittingly leaving themselves vulnerable to scams perpetrated by fraudsters posing as their bank

The BBA is launching a fraud awareness campaign as YouGov polling reveals that millions of people in Great Britain are unwittingly leaving themselves vulnerable to scams perpetrated by fraudsters posing as their bank

The leaflet sets out eight things your bank will NEVER ask you to do:

(1) Ask for your full PIN number or any online banking passwords over the phone or via e-mail
(2) Send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else
(3) Ask you to e-mail or text personal or banking information
(4) Send an e-mail with a link to a page which asks you to enter your online banking log-in details
(5) Ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash
(6) Call to advise you to buy diamonds, land or other commodities
(7) Ask you to carry out a test transaction online
(8) Provide banking services through any mobile apps other than the bank’s official apps

Tactics used by the scammers

Anthony Browne, CEO of the BBA, said: “Being defrauded is a devastating experience for anyone which is why we are launching this campaign. The more people know about fraud, the less likely they are to become victims. Our ‘Know Fraud, No Fraud’ initiative will help you spot some of the tactics used by scammers. Your bank would never send someone to your home to collect your cash or ask you to transfer funds to a new account.”

Browne added: “If you suspect you’ve become the victim of fraud please contact Action Fraud and your bank as soon as you can. Specially-trained staff will be able to advise on what to do next.”

Anthony Browne: CEO of the BBA

Anthony Browne: CEO of the BBA

City of London Police Commander Steve Head, the Police National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime, explained: “Fraud and cyber crime is costing the UK tens of billions of pounds each year, in turn causing significant damage to big businesses, destroying smaller businesses and ruining many individual lives. Criminals are also exploiting the technological and Internet revolution to target people of all ages and from all walks of life with ever more sophisticated and convincing scams. These scams are increasingly delivered directly into the home via telephone, mobiles, laptops and tablets.”

Head went on to state: “The key to creating a safer society and stopping the fraudsters in their tracks is law enforcement working in close collaboration with Government and the public and private sector to raise awareness of current and future threats and disrupt and dismantle the networks and enablers directly facilitating much of this criminality. The BBA’s campaign to flag up the most prevalent scams against bank customers and to provide advice on how to avoid becoming the next victim is another important step in the right direction and is fully supported by the City of London Police in its role as the National Policing Lead for Fraud.”

City of London Police Commander Steve Head

City of London Police Commander Steve Head

Nigel Kirby, deputy director of the Economic Crime Command, commented: “Prevention is vitally important in the UK’s fight to cut fraud, and the National Crime Agency fully supports this campaign which gives people the information they need to protect themselves. If you’re familiar with the ways in which criminals try to scam you, then you are far less likely to become a victim of the fraudsters.”

Vishing and ‘safe accounts’

In vishing cases, a fraudster will say they are from the bank or police, and that a fraudulent credit card payment has been spotted or a card due to expire needs to be replaced. To convince the intended victim they are genuine, the caller will suggest the customer hangs up and calls the bank back on the number printed on the back of their debit or credit card. However, the fraudster never actually disconnects the line so that when you call the real number you are still speaking to them.

Often, the fraudster will then ask for the customer’s PIN and then send a courier to the victim’s home to collect the bank card, promising to provide a new one. By now the assailant has obtained the victim’s name, address, bank details, card and PIN – enough to make large bogus payments.

If you receive a suspicious call, if possible use another phone or wait at least two minutes for the line to disconnect before picking up and dialling again.

When it comes to ‘safe accounts’, criminals posing as bank officials will instruct a customer that their account is under threat (usually from a corrupt bank employee or cyber criminals). They will be instructed by the ‘bank’ to transfer money into a new ‘safe account’ which is actually the fraudster’s account.

Your bank will NEVER ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash.

Test transactions and courier fraud

In some circumstances, criminals pretending to be from a bank might e-mail a customer asking them to perform a ‘test’ transaction online, sometimes claiming there is some technical issue on their account. Rest assured that your bank will NEVER ask you to carry out a test transaction online.

Often a follow-up to vishing, having posed on the phone as a fake bank employee to extract key security information – such as a customer’s full PIN code – the criminal may also say that they are sending an official courier to your home in order to collect the corresponding card. These couriers will have ‘official’ identification.

In the year ending March 2014, 211,344 fraud offences were recorded in England and Wales

In the year ending March 2014, 211,344 fraud offences were recorded in England and Wales

Another courier fraud ruse is for the criminal to pose as the bank in order to ask the victim to participate in a fake police investigation, usually involving a corrupt bank employee who has been stealing from customer accounts. Typically, the customer will be asked to withdraw substantial sums of money over the counter at their bank without arousing the suspicion of the staff. They are then told to wait at home for it to be collected by a courier for safe keeping.

Your bank will NEVER send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else.

Top line facts about fraud

In the year ending March 2014, 211,344 fraud offences were recorded in England and Wales. This is equivalent to four offences recorded per 1,000 members of the population. This represents a volume increase of 17% compared with the previous year.

In 2012, the UK Government fraud indicator suggested that fraud against UK individuals costs £6.1 billion per annum. This total is based upon estimates on the scale of mass marketing fraud, identity fraud, online ticket fraud, private rental property fraud and electricity scams.

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Home Secretary praises National Crime Agency on organisation’s first anniversary

During its first year of operation, the National Crime Agency has “broken new ground in the fight against serious and organised crime” and received due praise from Home Secretary Theresa May for doing so.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy – which was also launched on 7 October 2013 – represent a step change in the Government’s approach to combating serious and organised crime, which is estimated to cost the UK at least £24 billion per annum.

“The National Crime Agency has achieved a great deal in its first year of operation,” stated Theresa May. “Through its close partnership with law enforcement agencies both at home and overseas, the NCA is demonstrating that no-one is beyond its reach.”

The NCA has broken new ground in its investigation of serious and organised crime offences right across the spectrum, including in the area of modern slavery. In its first six months, the organisation achieved over 500 disruptions against serious and organised criminals and secured 300 convictions.

The NCA also co-ordinated a national operation tackling the sharing of child abuse images online. To date, this element of its investigations has resulted in over 600 arrests.

In addition, the NCA has led an international operation designed to tackle malware used for cyber crime and, in parallel, published the National Strategic Assessment – the most authoritative evaluation of the threat to the UK ever put in print.

The National Crime Agency has achieved much in its first year of operation

The National Crime Agency has achieved much in its first year of operation

The NCA is collaborating more closely than ever with law enforcement partners such as HMRC and police forces. Meanwhile, Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) have been strengthened so as to maintain a sophisticated and cohesive regional response to organised crime.

“Now, the NCA needs to build on its strong start and get ahead of the threat,” added the Home Secretary. “This means it must continue to work with a broad range of partners in order to build the best possible intelligence picture and use all of the tools available to disrupt and, importantly, prosecute organised criminals.”

Introduction of the Serious Crime Bill

The new Serious and Organised Crime Strategy is based on the successful framework used for counter-terrorism – Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare – and sets out a comprehensive, detailed cross-Government approach.

As part of this work, the Government has introduced a Serious Crime Bill to ensure that the NCA, the police service and others have the powers they need at their disposal. Measures include the new offence of participation in an organised crime group which targets corrupt lawyers, accountants and other professionals who’ve tried to evade justice by hiding behind a veneer of respectability.

The Government is also building on its success in seizing criminal assets. Over the last four years, around £750 million has been recovered, £93 million returned to victims and in excess of £2.5 billion frozen to put it beyond the reach of criminals.

Measures in the Serious Crime Bill will close loopholes used by criminals to avoid confiscation orders. For example, some criminals attempt to hide money by giving it to third parties such as spouses and associates.

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

The Government is committed to working with partners in other European countries – among them Europol and Interpol and also organisations across the private sector – to ensure the UK can act decisively beyond its own borders.

Back in April, the Home Office established a Financial Sector Forum to encourage better information sharing between the Government, law enforcement agencies and the financial services sector and improve the overall response to financial crime.

Tackling the cyber threat

The Government is improving its response to cyber threats by acquiring new technologies and capabilities. For instance, an investment of £860 million is being made over five years through the National Cyber Security Programme. So far, the Home Office has allocated £70 million of that sum to improve law enforcement cyber capabilities.

Last year, the Home Office provided an additional £10 million of funding to the ROCUs, in turn leading to new capabilities that better handle intelligence, protect witnesses and tackle cyber crime and fraud. Further new investments are being made before the end of the year.

“This Government,” continued Theresa May, “has demonstrated considerable progress in the fight against serious and organised crime. After too many years in which organised criminal gangs, their members and their associates ‘got away with it’, we are now sending the clearest possible message. Whoever you are and wherever you are, if you’re involved in organised crime then we will come after you, we will find you, we will prosecute you and we will punish you.”

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Banks team up with Government to combat cyber criminals and fraudsters

A pioneering financial crime alert system will see 12 Government and law enforcement agencies warn banks of the latest threats in a bid to safeguard the accounts of millions of customers.

Working with preferred technology partner BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, the British Bankers Association (BBA) will launch the Financial Crime Alerts Service as part of a new approach towards combating a wide range of financial crime threats.

The new alerts service will allow the sector to react more swiftly than ever to major incidents and permit industry financial crime professionals to spot emerging problems and threatening criminal trends.

Anthony Browne, CEO of the BBA, said: “This alerts system is a powerful new weapon against fraudsters, cyber criminals and other crooks intent on stealing our customers’ money. Receiving real-time alerts from both domestic and international bodies, including the National Crime Agency (NCA) and 11 other Government and law enforcement agencies, will provide vital intelligence for the army of staff banks have already hired to combat these threats. This service is a shining example of how banks and Government can work together to benefit all customers.”

Anthony Browne: CEO of the BBA

Anthony Browne: CEO of the BBA

Real-time intelligence pooled from partner agencies and Government bodies will be shared with expert banking officials in place to tackle fraud, financial crime and other violations.

This work builds on the successful arrangement already in place between banks and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau that has prevented over £100 million of fraud losses through successful and targeted information sharing.

When the initiative goes live (which is planned for early 2015), the BBA Financial Crime Alerts Service will include warnings on terrorist financing, money laundering, bribery and corruption, cyber and e-crime, fraud and emergent, thematic and strategic reports.

Donald Toon, director of the Economic Crime Command at the NCA, commented: “Collaboration between law enforcement and the private sector is key to reducing the impact of economic crime. Alerts to industry are a key part of this, and I very much welcome the BBA’s work in this area.”

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Customers urged to be vigilant as card fraudsters increase scam attacks

New figures released by Financial Fraud Action UK show that card and remote banking fraud increased during the first six months of 2014. The intelligence behind the figures reinforces recent trends, which have seen the growth of deception crimes seeking to persuade consumers to part with their personal and financial information, as well as criminals’ use of computer viruses. As a result, customers are being warned to remain vigilant and aware of the key warning signs of scams.

Fraud losses on UK cards totalled £247.6 million between January and June 2014, an increase of 15% from £216.1 million during the same period in 2013. Fraud as a proportion of card purchases has remained flat at 7.4 pence for every £100 spent, the same proportion as the industry reported at the end of 2013.

Losses on remote banking fraud rose to £35.9 million, up 59% from £22.6 million in 2013. Within this total, online banking fraud losses rose to £29.3 million, a growth of 71% from £17.1 million in 2013. Telephone banking fraud rose to £6.6 million, up 20% from £5.5 million. Intelligence suggests criminals are targeting business accounts which typically allow higher value fraudulent transactions.

Losses due to remote card purchases (those made online, over the telephone or by mail order) rose to £174.5 million in the first six months of 2014, up 23% from £142 million in the same period in 2013.

Within this total, the e-commerce fraud loss is estimated to be £110 million, up 23% from an estimated £89.5 million in the first half of 2013. While significant, this rise needs to be viewed in the context of the increase in Internet shopping by British consumers, with spending up from an estimated £40.5 billion in the first half of 2013 to an estimated £47 billion in the same period in 2014 (according to IMRG). Card payments are the main driver of online spending growth as they provide the most effective way to pay online.

Card fraud rises, but as a proportion of spending remains flat at 7.4 pence for every £100 spent during the first half of 2014

Card fraud rises, but as a proportion of spending remains flat at 7.4 pence for every £100 spent during the first half of 2014

Growth of deception crimes

A key driver for the rise in fraud losses has been the growth of deception crimes aimed at individuals and businesses. A combination of Chip and PIN and advanced fraud screening detection processes used by the banks drove a long-term decline in card fraud up to 2012. This is illustrated by the 72% decline in High Street fraud losses between 2004 and 2013. In response, fraudsters are increasingly concentrating their efforts on obtaining personal and financial details from individual customers rather than attacking the security systems used by the banks.

An increasing problem has been criminals telephoning people at home while posing as the bank, police or representatives of other trusted organisations such as Government departments. These cold calls typically involve the fraudster tricking their victim into revealing personal or financial information, such as their four-digit PIN or online banking details, transferring money to another account or accepting a courier into their home to pick up their card.

Once details have been compromised, they are then used to commit fraud through both remote (telephone or online) banking channels and via shopping online.

Commonly, fraudsters target retailers who have not introduced adequate Internet shopping protections. Research conducted by the ICM for Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) showed that a quarter (25%) of customers do not take steps to challenge the identity of a cold caller, with this figure rising to 34% of 18-24 year-olds. To stop these scams, police and fraud experts are highlighting the key warning signs.

Your bank will never:
*Call you and ask for your four-digit PIN or your full online or telephone banking security codes over the phone
*Ask you to withdraw money to hand over to them, or to transfer money to another account (even if they say the account is in your name)
*Come to your home to collect your cash, payment card or cheque book
*Ask you to purchase goods using your card and then hand them over for safe keeping

Intelligence also shows criminals are using computer viruses to steal personal and financial information which is then used to commit fraud. FFA UK strongly endorses last month’s ‘Call to Action’ by the National Crime Agency for consumers to download and update security software. Free software is often available for customers to download from their banks’ website.

Distraction thefts: driver of fraud

Distraction thefts in shops and at ATMs have been identified as a driver of fraud on lost or stolen cards, which has increased by 3% to £29.2 million from £28.2 million in the first half of 2013.

Meanwhile, mail non-receipt fraud has increased by 10% to £5 million, up from £4.6 million, with fraudsters targeting multiple occupancy residences to intercept cards and personal details from post boxes.

Counterfeit card fraud rose by 4% in the first six months of 2014 to £24.2 million, up from £23.3 million in 2013. The key driver for this modest rise is that stolen card details in the UK are being used to create counterfeit cards for use overseas in countries which have not yet implemented Chip and PIN.

Fraud on contactless cards continues to be negligible at £51,000 over the first six months of the year, which is just 0.007% of contactless card spending. Cheque fraud losses fell by 34% to £10.5 million in the first half of 2014, from £15.8 million in January to June 2013. The continued success of improved fraudulent cheque detection methods and enhanced prevention controls is the driver for this long-term decline.

The industry is tackling fraud through enforcement, information sharing, technological advances and awareness campaigns. The industry fully sponsors a specialist police unit, the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU), which identifies and targets the organised criminal gangs responsible for payment fraud. Since its inception in 2002, the DCPCU has achieved an estimated £800,000 per week in savings from reduced fraud.

Through FFA UK, the card and retail banking industry securely shares intelligence on emerging threats and identifies patterns in fraud which protect consumers and strengthen the industry’s defences.

Banks use a range of increasingly sophisticated fraud screening detection tools to prevent fraudulent transactions. FFA UK will shortly be launching a ‘vishing’ awareness initiative aimed at increasing customer vigilance over such scams.

Detective Chief Inspector Perry Stokes, head of the DCPCU, said: “Be very suspicious of phone calls, texts or e-mails which come out of the blue asking for personal or financial details, regardless of who the person on the other end of the line claims to represent. Be aware of the warning signs. Your bank will never ask you for your four-digit PIN, to transfer or withdraw money or to give your card to a courier. We’re asking members of the public to pass this information on to any family and friends who may be unaware, and echo recent calls made by the Commissioner of the City of London Police for a national awareness-raising campaign led by Government.”

View the full 2014 half year fraud figures

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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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