Cambridge event spurs new generation of cyber defenders
Amid heightening fears that Russian bots and global hackers are increasingly sabotaging democracy across the planet, Cambridge played host to a new generation of young and talented cyber defenders primed for action on the front line.
The Inter-ACE 2018 cyber security challenge, hosted by the University of Cambridge, was designed to help address a large and growing skills gap in the cyber security industry. GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre supported the two-day event.
More than 130 student cyber warriors representing 18 of the UK’s top cybersecurity universities battled it out for a £6k top prize and the chance to take on peers in the United States.
The University of Edinburgh grabbed gold with second place going to the University of Southampton and Imperial College London taking home bronze. The winning team will now compete with the best of the US at C2C –‘Cambridge2Cambridge’ – a transatlantic contest jointly organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cambridge.
It is being held between June 29 and July 1 at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Now in its third year, Inter-ACE was established to help resolve the vast and growing cyber security skills gap, with an estimated shortfall of 1.8m workers worldwide by 2022.
Inter-ACE aims to inspire young tech enthusiasts into the cyber security sector, while also honing the skills of those who already have a strong aptitude for ethical hacking and helping them meet like-minded individuals and potential employers.
Frank Stajano, founder of Inter-ACE and Professor of Security and Privacy at the University of Cambridge, said: “It’s no secret that the cyber security industry is suffering from a large and growing skills gap. We must do more to attract a more diverse pool of talent into the field. This is about demonstrating that careers in cyber security not only help to keep your country, your friends and your family safe, but are varied, valued and most of all fun.
“There is still much more to be achieved, but I have been delighted over the last three years to be welcoming a growing number of female participants and contestants from increasingly diverse backgrounds to the two-day competition.
“We had 18 women competing this year, as opposed to just two when we started! It's working. There is no set profile for a cyber security professional and Inter-ACE contributes to reaching more people with that important message.”
Inter-ACE 2018 involved a number of different scenarios, including preventing a hack on a UK city’s infrastructure and a tap on an undersea communications cable.
Connected devices such as a children’s toy were also used to demonstrate the impact of hacking techniques. The event featured over 20 challenges in total, set by experts from the University of Cambridge and sponsors including Context IS and Palo Alto Networks.
Established through the UK’s National Cyber Security Strategy and supported by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, Inter-ACE is sponsored by Microsoft, BT, Palo Alto and Context IS.
The 18 universities that participated this year were Queen’s Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, De Montfort, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, Imperial College London, Kent, Lancaster, Newcastle, Oxford, Royal Holloway London, Southampton, Surrey, University College London, Warwick and York.