The explosion in internet use, and the almost complete reliance on computer systems to run and record our daily lives, has opened up endless opportunities for thieves, spies and vandals to exploit the platform. The government recognised the potential threats to the nation’s critical national infrastructure and therefore commissioned the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The review made the threats from cyberspace a "tier one" priority, because Downing Street considered them a genuine threat to national security. Though much maligned at the time, this review is now regarded slightly more positively and is seen as the tipping point in the fight back against hackers, organised crime and terrorism. Over the course of the last 18 months the Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance (OCSIA) has been looking at new ways to fight this global threat and protect the UK’s critical national infrastructure.
The OCSIA has determined that one of the most effective ways of shoring up cyber defences is by recruiting an army of computer specialists to defend the systems from being attacked; the so-called youthful cyber-warriors. So the OCSIA came up with the concept of the Cyber Security Challenge in 2011. The Challenge looks to encourage the public, particularly young teenagers to enter competitions to develop ways to promote cyber security. Cyber Security Challenge UK is a series of national competitions aiming to find talented people who can promote cyber security. The challenge is backed by leading industry players including HP, Sophos, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, RSA and Symantec.
‘Can you talk security’ is the latest competition in the Challenge, and is supported by both BT and Get Safe Online. The aim of the competition is to test the competitors’ ability to communicate good security practice to others. It is hoped that the greater publicity this will bring to the issue will increase attention of the risks posed to small and medium-sized businesses by cyber threats, and will encourage all parties to take simple yet practical steps to protect themselves in the future.
Cybercrime costs UK businesses billions of pounds a year, with a recent Cabinet Office survey estimating the annual cost at around £27 billion. Cyber Security Challenge UK says industry experts believe huge savings could be made across all sectors of the UK by improving awareness of basic good security practice. Cyber Security Challenge UK says the competition aims to tackle "a critical and costly unawareness amongst UK small business owners and office workers about their vulnerability to cybercrime". The competition also hopes to identify "a new generation of creative communicators" who can move into cyber security, where their skills are in high demand.
Bob Nowill, director of cyber and information assurance at BT Security, said:
"It only needs one brilliant idea to resonate with people across the country to make a huge difference to their own security and the UK's as a whole."
The winning submission will be announced at BT Tower in London in November this year. Winners will then have the opportunity to work with a team of digital professionals and marketing experts who will launch the campaign nationwide.