A major shipping company is under attack. With help from a corrupt executive, an international hacking syndicate called Scorpius, has penetrated the computer networks of Fast Freight Ltd. The hackers have taken control of servers and compromised the systems that control Fast Freight’s vessels and its portside machinery. The company’s cybersecurity consultants have 48 hours to uncover the breach and repulse the attackers before they cripple Fast Freight’s business and cause serious economic damage.
It sounds like the plot to a blockbuster thriller. But this was the fictional scenario 42 budding computer security experts faced at the annual U.K. Cyber Security Challenge competition earlier this week in London. With demand for cybersecurity expertise exploding, but qualified people in short supply, war-gaming competitions like this have become key recruiting grounds for companies and government security agencies.
“We want to find untapped talent to fill roles in our own operation and in the industry as a whole,” said Rob Partridge, BT Group Plc’s head of commercial development for penetration testing. BT is one of a half-dozen companies, including Airbus SE, Cisco Systems Inc. and smaller, specialist cybersecurity firms Darktrace Ltd. and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., that sponsored this year’s Challenge competition. The U.K.’s National Crime Agency, the Bank of England and law firm 4 Pump Court also supported the competition.