Sophos tasks UK public to crack virtual terrorist hard drive in new Cyber Security Challenge competition

Posted On 12 Jun 2014
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As part of the latest Cyber Security Challenge competition, Sophos is calling on members of the UK public to turn ‘sleuth’ and investigate confiscated crime scene computer systems belonging to a mysterious cyber terrorist group. ‘Assignment Flag Drive’ is the second competition in the 2014-2015 programme of online and face-to-face cyber battles aimed at uncovering the best UK amateur security talent. This latest round of Challenge competitions sees the introduction of a new nemesis, The Flag Day Associates. They represent the Challenge’s first recurring characters who will feature prominently in a gripping storyline throughout this year’s competition, culminating with the 2015 Masterclass which takes place next March. The fictitious Flag Day Associates first appeared at the end of the last Masterclass awards ceremony (which ran in March this year) via a threat video featuring three masked individuals warning of a future cyber attack on the UK. The video (link here) was uploaded to YouTube. Further ‘secret’ details embedded within revealed a possible date for the cyber attack as well as a reference to the next solar eclipse observable from the UK. Last month, over 1,000 amateur cyber defenders signed up to help decipher the first clue in the investigation of the Flags” a suspicious communication e-mail identified by the National Crime Agency and described as potentially having been sent between members of the group. Using technical skills and curiosity To mark the launch of ‘Assignment Flag Drive’, the Challenge has revealed that the intercepted e-mail has been traced to an abandoned warehouse in the English countryside. When the authorities arrived any previous occupants had vacated, taking all of their equipment with them. Only an encrypted hard drive was left behind. In the brand new online competition, founding Challenge sponsor Sophos is calling on members of the UK public to use all of their skills and technical curiosity in a bid to break into the captured system and report on what new information they’re able to ascertain. ” This competition is going to be a lot of fun and include many of the key skills security professionals need in the workplace,” explained James Lyne, global head of security research at Sophos.” It will have forensic aspects to it and be accessible to all levels. Best of all is that part of the game involves a collection of interesting ‘Internet of Things’ devices. I’m looking forward to seeing the creative approaches the players take to try and overcome The Flag Day Associates.” Cyber Security Challenge CEO Stephanie Daman stated:” Sophos has been a great supporter of the Challenge since its first year, and always provides exciting competitions that bring candidates face-to-face with realistic scenarios and situations that the industry is tackling today. We’re waiting to see what our candidates can learn about The Flag Day Associates from the mysterious drive that’s left behind.” The highest-ranked entrants from the Sophos competition will automatically qualify for the first of a series of reconnaissance meetings as part of ‘Operation Flag Day’. Here, the most impressive candidates from the virtual assignments will be asked to report for duty in person at secret locations around the UK and carry out investigations face-to-face on a team basis. As well as uncovering vital clues on the objectives and identities of The Flag Day Associates, these investigations will determine the final line-up of online defenders who’ll then take on The Flag Day Associates at the Masterclass final next year. Further detail on the UK Cyber Security Challenge The UK Cyber Security Challenge runs a series of national inspirational competitions aimed at attracting talented people into the profession and informing them about cyber security careers and learning opportunities. Now in its fourth year, the Challenge is running an ambitious programme of competitions and activities designed to spread the word about why working in the cyber security arena is such a fulfilling and varied career and, importantly, help talented people obtain their first cyber security job. The Challenge is sponsored by some of the UK’s most prestigious public, private and academic sector organisations and is making a notable difference to the career prospects of those with the talents and aptitudes to become full-time cyber security professionals. Log on here to learn more.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.