TECH

GCHQ Launches 'Cyber Security Challenge' To Find Hacking Superheroes

21/08/2014 09:40 BST | Updated 21/08/2014 09:59 BST

British cyber spooks have created a new online game to find new recruits - and test the public's ability to deal with hacking attacks.

Intelligence agency GCHQ has teamed up with the Cyber Security Challenge and will give the public the chance to act like a security operative and attempt to prevent an attack on a fictitious aerospace firm from cyber villains the Flag Day Associates.

According to the National Crime Agency, more than 40% of web users do not install anti-virus software on new devices, leaving them vulnerable to attack. The agency launched a campaign earlier this month asking for the public to be more "cyber street smart".

The new game, named Assignment: Astute Explorer, will see players who register to take part given the chance to analyse code from the aerospace company, identify vulnerabilities and then suggest fixes.

Here's the description:

"An analysis has been carried out on a hard-drive recovered from the warehouse thought to have housed the cyber terrorist group – The Flag Day Associates has revealed plans for a future cyber attack. The intended victim is Ebell Technologies – an aerospace and electrical engineering company, and world leaders in the production of military and civilian aircraft, green energy technologies such as wind turbines, and a variety of electronics products."

Sounds scary.

The scheme is part of the larger Cyber Security Challenge, which uses a series of events and competitions aimed at attracting new talent to the cyber security world.

Stephanie Daman, CEO of the Cyber Security Challenge, said: "Astute Explorer is an ingenious game from GCHQ which will not only provide an enjoyable challenge but will test skills that are in high demand by employers in this sector. 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."

The game takes the form of a competition, as those who perform the best will be asked to attend events in person and conduct realistic investigations into the threat the game creates. The winning candidates from this round will then take part in a live final against the hackers at an event next year.

Chris Ensor, deputy director for the National Technical Authority for IA, said:

"GCHQ, as the UK's National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, is pleased to have been able to develop an original game for the Cyber Security Challenge.

"We have designed Astute Explorer to really test candidates' Cyber Security skills. At GCHQ, like many other high tech organisations, we recognise the need for a skilled workforce which is why we are delighted to once again support the Cyber Security Challenge to inspire the next generation of Cyber Security talent."

The Cyber Security Challenge says that its aim is to get the best candidates jobs within the industry as a result of the challenge, which is now in its fourth year.

Web security is a hot topic right now, with notable attacks on eBay, among others sites, having occurred in recent months.

Computer coding is also being added to the school curriculum from this September with the aim of improving the digital skills of the next generations of workers, while parents and teachers are also being offered classes by companies like John Lewis and Barclays in order to improve their own skills.

The Cyber Security Challenge website is now open to anyone to register, with the games starting in early September.