A team from School of Informatics competed in the National Finals of CyberCenturion, a countrywide cyber defence competition led by global security company Northrop Grumman and Cabinet Office-backed Cyber Security Challenge UK, with support from the US Air Force Association.
Battling it out at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), ten teams competed in a high-pressured, face-to-face challenge to protect a fictional company from vicious cyber-attacks.
All four team members: Jorge Sanz Maroto, Kieran Litschel, Jose Ignacio (Nacho) Martin, Gwion Ap Rheinallt are first year informatics students (some joint with maths or electronics). None of them had previous experience of taking part in similar competitions in the field.
“I have been interested in security since secondary school but I never had the chance to participate in any security-related activities. I heard about this competition just before I started semester one and it seemed like a fun and interesting way to get into security”.
Nacho Martin adds:
“I have always been fascinated with how things can be as secure as possible and in what ways you could penetrate such security”.
Nacho explains the challenges of a fast-paced competition:
“The biggest challenge for me was being able to stay focused and productive. Sometimes I would hit a brick wall I would be unable to work out what to do. This would be discouraging and make me feel disheartened, and would make me slow down and lose concentration”.
The group has been put together by Margus Lind who guided the boys throughout the year with the help of the training images provided by CyberCenturion. He encouraged them to attend the IT security courses the university has on offer and to work through the material at their own pace. On top of that, he included some material and inspiration from trainings he has completed himself, as well as set up a Security Shepherd instance. The latter content is less relevant to the CyberCenturion competition, but it helped the team in CTFs.
On the back of this success Margus hopes to be able to set up a more rigid training programme with the help of the relevant societies/groups and academic staff in the years to come.
Jorge Sanz Maroto sums up the experience:
“Very nice experience and I really hope the university starts to promote and attract more people into this kind of competitions since they are very fun to take part and you learn loads form them”.
“I’m really grateful the university sponsored us, as it allowed us to go and compete in a national competition without having to worry about expenses. It will certainly be one of the more memorable and enriching experiences of my time at university”.