18-year-old student becomes youngest ever UK Cyber Security Champion

Posted — 07.11.2016
  • Ben Jackson, 18, from King’s Hill in Kent, triumphs at 2016 Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass making him 2016 cyber security champion, the youngest ever
  • His win follows a three-day investigation of a simulated cyber security competition led by PwC and supported by GCHQ, NCA and the Bank of England
  • To enter 2017’s series of competitions and qualify for Masterclass, register here with The Challenge

Friday 4th November 2016, London: After a gruelling three-day cyber-attack simulation, the UK has a new Cyber Security Challenge champion. Ben Jackson, an 18-year-old student from Bexhill-on-sea, Sussex, has won Cyber Security Challenge UK’s Masterclass competition, the country’s premier cyber skills contest, which saw the top 42 brightest amateur talents investigate a data breach on a fictional power company and fend off attacks from hacktivist groups. The competition was created by professional services company PwC with support from GCHQ, NCA and the Bank of England.

The Masterclass grand finale took place in a Security Operations Centre set up in Shoreditch, London, and was the culmination of a year’s worth of qualifying rounds which saw budding cyber security professionals pit their cyber security skills against each other in online and face-to-face competitions across the country. The 42 finalists competed in front of experts from the cyber security industry, who assessed and ranked contestants’ performances against real life job requirements, including technical proficiencies and soft skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication.

The Challenge works with some of the top organisations in the cyber security industry to design and implement its programme of competitions. This ensures that the challenges are as real as possible and that all of the skills tested and taught are those that companies are looking to find and recruit. Over the years, 50% of the candidates that have competed in the Challenge’s Masterclass and face-to-face rounds have gone on into jobs in the industry.

18-year-old Winner, Ben Jackson said: “It’s hard to put into words how I feel but I can say it’s a complete privilege to win such a well renowned competition. I’m frankly amazed that I’ve won. This has been a brilliant few days and a life changing experience, meeting some great people along the way. I hope to now go on pursue a career in cyber security, something which I really enjoy.”

Ben now receives his choice of rewards from a collection of career-enhancing prizes including valuable industry training, university courses, the best new technologies and access to strategic industry events – all provided by Challenge sponsors including PwC, Bank of England, GCHQ, SANS Institute, Royal Holloway University, De Montford University, NCC Group, PGI, (ISC)2, CompTIA, Bsides London, IISP, IAAC, 7Safe, Infosec Skills and CREST.

Stephanie Daman, CEO, Cyber Security Challenge UK said: “This year’s Masterclass has been one of the most immersive and realistic competitions we have ever staged. PwC and our consortium of sponsors devised a scenario that mirrored the skills that cyber security professionals require in the workplace. There are huge number of cyber security jobs on offer, and simply not enough people to fill them. Competitions like these give talented individuals a safe environment to showcase their skills in front of organisations that are looking for new recruits. We would like to encourage any individual with an inquisitive mind, a passion for problem solving and desire to learn, to sign up and try out our competitions. You could be the next Cyber Security Challenge Champion and secure the job of your dreams.”

The Masterclass Final

This year’s Masterclass kicked off on Wednesday in Shoreditch in where candidates were briefed by the CEO of Bolt Power, a fictional power company that had detected suspicious activity on its IT network and suspected a potential data breach. Candidates were split into teams and given profiles of potential employees that could be the cause of the attack that evening, before launching into the technical investigation the next morning.

Candidates were given the same tools that professionals use in real life to carry out their investigation and were expected to abide by real life rules and ethical practice. They were pitted in a high pressure environment which saw live updates and demands made from government agencies and the board of Bolt Power. Meanwhile, hacktivist groups launched real-time cyber-attacks to thwart the investigation. The contestants were also tasked to prevent information of the attack confidential in the face of fictional demanding journalists. The day competition ended on Friday afternoon with a presentation to the board, played by the most senior PwC and government figures.

Like what you see? Play now

After all the excitement of this year’s Masterclass final, the Challenge is ready to do it all over again. Register with the Challenge to compete in next year’s programme. A host of competitions are available to play now. Using our new play-on-demand system which allows access to games any time, you could sign up and take part in just a matter of clicks. Why not be part of one of the UK’s fastest growing and most exciting sector?