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Cyber security is becoming increasingly important as more of us rely on technology in our daily lives. Our guest blogger Sophia is in her final year of studying BSc (Hons) Cyber Security Management and has had the amazing opportunity to compete against international opponents in the European Cyber Security Challenge. Here she tells us more about her experiences battling it out at the competition:

I have recently returned from the European Cyber Security Challenge, an international security competition where 20 countries compete for the winning title in Europe. Each team was made up of 10 individuals aged 14 – 25, hand-picked by each nation through strenuous national qualification processes. The competition was a two-day event hosted by ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity), which was composed of different security and ethical hacking challenges. Topics included web hacking, network analysis, solving cryptography problems and digital forensic challenges.

I had competed in this competition two years prior, as my third  year representing the United Kingdom – this year I was nominated Team Captain by a panel of judges from industry. To qualify to be a part of the team was intense – there were several rounds of qualification, including an online round and a face-to-face round, which this year was hosted by Santander. As a national qualification organised by Cyber Security Challenge UK, many individuals attempted to qualify for the team – to make the team and be nominated Team Captain was a massive achievement.

The competition was tough and the other competing teams were fierce. Prior to the competition we had completed an aptitude of team-training tasks and training days, kindly supported by our sponsors NCC Group and Immersive Labs – which definitely helped prepare us for the competition. My goal was to make the top five in the competition, and I am ecstatic to say that the United Kingdom came 5th overall. Notably, myself and another team members delivered our team presentation on a challenge of our choosing which scored full marks and was highly commended by the judging panel. Overall, the team was successful and regardless of placing, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the ability to hone my technical skills in a high-pressure environment.

Completing the European Cyber Security Challenge was an incredible experience. It gave me the chance to test and push my technical skills to the absolute limit, but also allowed me to network with a diverse group of like-minded young people and industry professionals. Taking part in the competition has permitted me to pursue my professional development, which has helped in my career prospects and industry personal brand.

As much as this year’s competition was a great success, I look towards the future and life after university. The competition has helped sharpen my technical skills to compliment my managerial degree in cyber security and I am also glad to say that I have secured a job after graduation within the technical sector of the industry. I hope to cherish this year’s competition experience, however I am determined to continue competing in high-level competitions – not only for the skill development, but for the enjoyment and fun side of it too!




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