NDA hosts Cumbria’s first ever cyber security “Capture the Flag” competition for secondary schools.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) hosted Cumbria’s first ever cyber security “Capture the Flag” competition last week for secondary schools to encourage pupils to consider a career in cyber security.

The innovative two-day event hosted at Energus in partnership with Hack the Box, saw pupils compete against each other using cyber techniques and tactics to be the fastest to solve puzzles related to hacking scenarios and phishing scams.

Schools right across Cumbria took part in the competition, including from Workington, Whitehaven, Kendal, and Penrith, submitting teams of six players, aged between 13-18 years old.

Students were given a showcase of cyber techniques and the career opportunities in the field available across the NDA group. Additionally, provisions were considered to allow students of all abilities and backgrounds to attend, making the event inclusive and accessible for all attending.

The team who came out on top were the Hackstreet Boys, entered by Keswick School. who were able to solve the most amount of puzzles in the quickest amount of time, using cyber techniques and strategic problem solving. Second and third place went to teams entered by Ullswater Community College in Penrith.

Tom Pye-Kendall, a Year 13 student at Keswick School studying computer science, said: I’ve really enjoyed attending this competition. It’s been really fun getting to know more about the world of cybersecurity, hear from industry experts and find out more about how to solve such complex puzzles.

Neil Kendall, GSOC Threat Intel and Analysis Manager, NDA, said: With it being Cyber Awareness Month, the timing couldn’t be more perfect in educating these young people on how to positively work within cyber, find out more about the skillsets employed by the NDA and showcase how this is a legitimate career pathway. A massive thank you to all the pupils and teacher who attended this event and for being fantastic role models to their respective schools, as well as Hack the Box for supporting the event."

Students also had the opportunity to hear from cyber experts at the NDA and the Group Industrial Cyberspace Centre, as well as engage with former apprentices and graduates who started their careers in cyber in the NDA group and could talk about their own experience getting into the industry.

Mateusz Szuminski, cyber security analyst at the NDA, who began as a cyber security graduate, said: Being at this event has been a great way of passing on my experiences to young people. It’s also been fantastic to showcase how working in cyber within this sector never fails to be interesting, as you are always working on projects that are vital in ensuring we continue to complete our nuclear decommissioning mission safely and securely.

The NDA has a proven track record in investing in early career development, with over £45 million  invested in apprentice and graduate development each year, and 1,000 people currently on early careers programmes.

The NDA is working to address national acute skills shortages in areas including cyber, as well as developing a strategic workforce plan, supporting the development of the NDA group Industrial Cyberspace Centre, and collaborating with the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group on attracting the next generation of talent.

Publication Date
16th October 2023
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