The London BT Tower, probably the most high profile communications target in the UK, whose public gallery was closed to avoid terrorist attack, was the venue for a simulated cyber-terrorist strike on Saturday, testing the ability of amateur contestants to win back control of a large building's power supply from hackers.

The cyber-attack simulation mimicked sophisticated cyber-crime groups using Heartbleed and Shellshock type cyber-attacks. Defence efforts using crime-fighting tools ranging from cryptography to advanced penetration testing packages such as Kali-Linux, were assessed by experts from organisers Raytheon UK, as well as GCHQ, the National Crime Agency, BT, C3IA and Airbus Group

The online battle formed part of the Government-backed Cyber Security Challenge UK.

Paul Crichard, Raytheon UK head of cyber research, commented to press: “We designed this contest to mimic the high-pressure emergency situations that real-world professionals have to deal with, and show gifted people who may just enjoy code-breaking or reverse engineering as a hobby, that their talents are actually vital to the UK economy.”  Raytheon recently launched a new cyber innovation competition aimed at UK SMEs with £100,000 of prizes.

Stephanie Daman, CEO at the Cyber Security Challenge UK, added: “The recent Carbanak attack ... show(s) that the economic cost of cyber-crime is continually rising. The industry is dedicated to finding new ways to address the critical talent shortage across Britain, as we see rising cyber-crime posing a threat to UK assets and even critical infrastructure.”

The day's winning team comprised Adam Tonks, a Bournemouth University student; Darren Brooke, an IT consultant, from Pontypridd; Robert Laverick, who runs a software development consultancy in Redcar; and Steve Haughton, a network manager from Cardiff.

Next month finalists from all four of the Challenge's competitions take part in the Challenge's grand finale, described as the UK's largest ever simulated cyber-attack. The event will be hosted by a consortium comprising of BT, GCHQ, the National Crime Agency, Airbus Group and Lockheed Martin.