A competition which aims to identify British people who excel in cyber security has begun. The Cyber Security Challenge UK launched yesterday.

Funding towards electronic security courses, places of private-sector training courses and access to professional expertise and resources are among the 30 prizes of offer to those that prove successful in the online competitions.

"Defending all of our interests in cyberspace is a relatively small cadre of talented and highly skilled public sector and private sector cyber security professionals," said The Rt Hon Baroness Neville-Jones, Minister for Security.

"This pool of professionals must grow and the Cyber Security Challenge UK offers an innovative and exciting way of attracting talented individuals to take up rewarding careers in this field."

Just two competitions are being made available in the challenge to begin with.

The QinetiQ Network Defence Competition requires teams to review, administer and defend a simulated network against attacks from cyber security professionals while the SANS Institute and Sophos Treasure Hunt is an online game suitable for all ages and all levels of experience that will run between September and December and see participants identify security flaws on a dummy website and answer questions based on the issues they find.

Both competitions will feature a online virtual element and a face-to-face round.

The winners of these competitions will be able to the Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass, which is being developed by HP Labs and EADS Defence and Security, to compete against each other to manage and defend a business technology network in an accurately simulated commercial environment.

The winner will be crowned the UK's ultimate cyber security champion.

Web users interested in taking part can register at the dedicated Cyber Security Challenge web page www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk.

"We are calling on students, graduates and anyone with an interest in cyber security, to come forward and test their skills," said Judy Baker, director of Cyber Security Challenge UK

"The variety and excitement of the cyber security industry is one of the UK's best kept secrets, it faces new, dynamic challenges everyday. The Challenge will demonstrate how important and exciting this profession is and help the nation's best, undiscovered talent achieve their cyber-security career ambitions."

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