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PwC: Ehical Hackers design cyber challenge to seek out talent of the future

A national search to find the most talented cyber security professionals of the future has yielded two winners.

In the latest phase of challenges, competitors had to show amazing speed and skill to complete the ciphers (online security puzzles), created by PwC's OneSecurity threat and vulnerability management team.

Jay Abbott, Director of Threat & Vulnerability Management, PwC, said:

The ciphers we have designed in this phase are tough and the intrepid few that have completed these conundrums are operating to a really high standard. We want to excite and inspire those who wouldn't necessarily consider cyber security as a legitimate career, while at the same time identifying the most talented individuals.

It's uncommon for someone to seek out a job in security - for the majority it is part of a wider job role that becomes more specialist. Using innovative channels like this to recruit new talent highlights skills like good problem solving, curiosity to learn and a driven work ethic - all of which are traits needed to forge a successful career in cyber security.

While this round of teasers is not part of the official challenge, it offers everyone from teenagers to IT professionals the chance to test their skills and mettle against the PwC professionals. The Cyber Security Challenge UK, is a wider series of online and face-to-face competitions supported by leading security, education and government organisations as a response to the worrying shortage of skilled professionals in the cyber security sector.

Each cipher was designed to suit a different level of experience. The first was pitched at those of school age, the second was for everybody else, students, graduates and those working in other industries while the last was pitched at industry professionals, which is the hardest cipher the challenge team has developed to date.

The winners

Edward Godfrey , winner of first cipher challenge (under 18s category)

Edward is a 16 year old cyber security hobbyist who is studying for his A-Levels at the Thomas Hardye School in Dorset. Although not a professional, Edward took part in the online National Cipher Challenge (run by Southampton University) last year and solved all the rounds, which went up to the level of a Vigenere Cipher.

Senad Zukic, winner of the second and third challenges, said:

I'm a programmer by profession but not in the security sector. I work mostly on websites or desktop apps, but I've always enjoyed codes and ciphers but I never had an opportunity to get into the sector. All the jobs that I've come across are either down in London or they are manager level posts or they want you to have one of these professional qualifications that cost £1000s of pounds to do. But as a hobby I like security based work, encryption, steganography, forensics, network infrastructure security - all the fun stuff..

Judy Baker, Director, UK Cyber Security Challenge, said:

The response to the ciphers demonstrates the level of cyber security capability and ambition we have in this country and those who take on these puzzles are exactly the people the Challenge is looking to target. We already have sponsors saying they would like to meet candidates who are showing such a high level of ability.

This time round, we are celebrating Edward Godfrey, winner of our under 18s competition, who has all the potential to be a huge success in our industry and Senad Zukic, who staggered the Challenge team with both the skill and speed he displayed in solving the remaining two ciphers. We are delighted to invite both Edward and Senad to a winner's reception to commemorate their achievement. They are amongst the first winners of what will now be a quarterly cipher challenge brought to us by the experts at PwC.


Notes to Editors:

More information on how to get involved, either as a sponsor or a participant can be found on the Challenge website :

The Cyber Security Challenge UK is a programme of national challenges, designed by experts, to identify and nurture the UK's future cyber security workforce. It has been established by key figures in cyber security to improve the quality and quantity of talented people entering the cyber security profession. It will test the nation's cyber skills, inspire entrants to develop their talents, and provide clear pathways to cyber security careers.

The Challenge will address the UK's need for a larger and more skilled cyber security work force. In 2009 a SANS Institute survey found that 90% of companies had experienced trouble recruiting new cyber security staff and nearly 60% expected to be employing more cyber security staff in the next five years. The challenge will reward the best talent with career enabling prizes such as sponsorship at university, a place on a private sector training course or a mentoring opportunity in a leading company. It will link talented people with the courses and training they need to develop and put them in touch with an industry actively seeking new skilled recruits. The Challenge marks the first time that industry, government and the education sector have come together to tackle what is an increasingly important issue for our country's security.

The Challenge is a not for profit business, shaped by a consortium of cyber security leaders, who, through their involvement and sponsorship, are helping to strengthen our workforce and protect the UK in the face of an increasing threat. Using their own knowledge of the skills and capabilities needed to tackle the increasing cyber threat, sponsors are demonstrating their position and leadership in cyber security.

For more information contact:

Elizabeth Faulkner
Assurance PR Executive, PwC
Tel:020 7213 1018
Mobile:07877 758 609