Get into a cyber-security career for a £100,000 a year by gaming

Cyber Security Challenge UK wants to reach out to Britain’s gamers with ‘Cyphinx’, a virtual skyscraper made to look like a high quality 3D console game

A gaming portal launched by the UK government is looking for the next generation of cyber security professionals interested in working for the likes of GCHQ in roles that could pay around £100,000 a year.

Cyber Security Challenge UK, a programme backed by the Cabinet Office and private and public sector sponsors, which has launched a new gateway to games and competitions designed to find the untapped talent the sector badly needs.

In its fifth year, the campaign wants to reach out to Britain’s gamers with ‘Cyphinx’, a virtual skyscraper made to look like a high quality 3D console game.

Candidates can enter 'the building', create avatars and try their hand at puzzles that test skills like risk analysis and network defence.

One of the play on demand scenarios involves stopping a 'bad guy' insider wreaking havoc on an office network, while others require performing digital forensics on suspect files.

Other are inside Minecraft, in the world's first use of the phenomenally successful video game as a test of such disciplines. 

Scores can be entered on to leaderboards, creating digital CVs for participants, which could come to the attention of supporters, including Airbus, BT, GCHQ, the Bank of England and National Grid.

A skills shortage – estimates put the shortfall at 1.5 million workers globally by 2020 – plus growing demand in the wake of high profile breaches such as the Sony and Ashley Madison hacks, mean some roles could command salaries of more than £100,000, according to consultancy Procorre.

And recruitment rates are high. Stephanie Daman, chief executive of the Challenge, said its past competitions, of those who made it to face-to-face contests or masterclasses, one in two went into a job in the industry.

So what do candidates need to succeed?

"The important thing is to have an inquiring mind, a mind that is not satisfied by standard answers," said Daman.

"As long as you’ve got the right mindset, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done before."

The winner of the first challenge was a postman, she added, who now works in cyber security for Royal Mail.

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