CybersecurityU.K.’s best defenders compete for chance to take on the U.S. best

Inter-ACE, now in its third year, was established to help resolve the vast and growing cyber skills gap, with an estimated shortfall of 1.8 million workers worldwide by 2022. More than 130 students representing eighteen of the U.K.’s top cybersecurity universities battled it out at the Inter-ACE cybersecurity challenge, hosted by the University of Cambridge. The competition, supported by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Center, and designed to attract the next generation of cybersecurity talent.

More than 130 students representing eighteen of the U.K.’s top cybersecurity universities battled it out at the Inter-ACE 2018 cybersecurity challenge, hosted by the University of Cambridge. The competition, supported by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Center, and designed to attract the next generation of cybersecurity talent took place over two days on 16-17 March 2018.

The victorious team from the University of Edinburgh won the top prize of £6,000, with second place going to the University of Southampton and Imperial College London taking home bronze.

The winners will now compete with the best of the U.S. at C2C –‘Cambridge2Cambridge’, a transatlantic contest jointly organized by the Massachusetts Institute of (MIT) and the University of Cambridge to be held between the June and 1 July 2018 at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Cambridge says that Inter-ACE, now in its third year, was established to help resolve the vast and growing cyber security skills gap, with an estimated shortfall of 1.8 million 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.

Professor Frank Stajano, Founder of Inter-ACE and Professor of Security and Privacy at the University of Cambridge, said: “It’s no secret that the cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity professional and Inter-ACE contributes to reaching more people with that important message.” 

Nick L, a student from the winning team at the University of Edinburgh said “For people out there thinking about getting into cybersecurity and sitting on the fence, get yourself into a cybersecurity competition. Chances are the first one might not go so great, but you’ll get there and a lot. That’s exactly how we started out.”

Inter-ACE 2018 involved a number of different scenarios, including preventing a hack on a U.K. 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 two-day event featured over 20 in total, set by from the University of Cambridge and sponsors including Context IS and Palo Alto Networks.

Inter-ACE was established through the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Strategy and supported by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre. Itis sponsored by Microsoft, BT, Palo Alto and Context IS.

The eighteen universities that participated in this year’s Inter-ACE were Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Birmingham, the University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, De Montfort University, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, Imperial College London, the University of Kent, Lancaster University,  Newcastle University, the University of Oxford, Royal Holloway University of London, the University of Southampton, the University of Surrey, University College London, the University of Warwick and the University of York.

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