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18-year-old named youngest ever UK cyber security champion

David Bicknell Published 07 November 2016

Ben Jackson beats off challenge from 41 other competitors at Masterclass event


Ben Jackson, an 18 year old from Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex has been dubbed the UK’s cyber-skills champion, taking the overall prize in last week’s three-day Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass competition.

The win puts him in a prime position to develop a career in cyber security after receiving a choice of rewards for his win including industry training, university courses, the latest new technologies and access to strategic industry events.

Jackson won the prize against 41 of the country’s brightest cyber talents who investigated a data breach on a fictional power company while fending off attacks from hacktivist groups.

The prizes are all provided by Challenge sponsors, who include professional services company PwC, the 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.

The competition was created by PwC with support from GCHQ, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Bank of England.

The Masterclass grand finale took place in a security operations centre set up in Shoreditch in London and followed a year’s worth of qualifying rounds which saw would-be cyber security professionals pit their skills against each other in online and face-to-face competitions across the country.

The elite 42 finalists competed in front of experts from the cyber security industry, who assessed and ranked contestants’ performances against real life job requirements. These included not just  technical proficiencies, but also soft skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication.

The Challenge works alongside the country’s top cyber security organisations to design and implement its programme of competitions. Over the years, half of the candidates that have competed in the Challenge’s Masterclass and face-to-face rounds have gone on into jobs in the industry.

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.”

Stephanie Daman, chief executive, 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.”


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