GCHQ is Looking for Hackers at Cyberwarfare Games Festival on HMS Belfast

By Chris Mills on at

Wargames used to mean legions of tanks roaming across battlefields, and soldiers playing make-believe with really big guns. These days, it's all about corralling a bunch of nerds into an old tin can, and giving them a doomsday scenario straight out of 24.

Seemingly in an attempt to try and up the UK's cyberwarfare capabilities, our government (and interested private companies) has been trying to attract up-and-coming amateur hackers into its ranks.

The culmination of this effort is the Cyber Security Challenge: a year-long series of competitions between amateur hackers in various scenarios, culminating in a two-day challenge on board HMS Belfast, a retired Royal Navy light cruiser moored in the heart of London.

The candidates are faced with a classic Hollywood dilemma: the bad guys have got control of a naval gun system, and the only thing standing between them and destruction are our amateur cyber-heroes. In a less apocalyptic side-challenge, the competitors also need to scan for vulnerabilities with IT and healthcare systems, to make sure the 'Flag Day Associates' don't shut down anyone's life support too soon.

The challenge also focuses on white-hat hacking within an appropriate legal and ethical framework: it isn't some kind of ends-justify-the-means Bond rampage (sadly).

While the winner isn't guaranteed a job at the end, the long list of sponsors — GCHQ, the National Crime Agency, and companies like Lockheed — certainly shows the importance that the government and private sector are placing in hiring competent IT security. [Telegraph]