Ben Jackson, winner of the 2016 Cyber Security Challenge (pic: Cyber Security Challenge via Twitter)
Ben Jackson, winner of the 2016 Cyber Security Challenge (pic: Cyber Security Challenge via Twitter)

18-year-old Ben Jackson has been named the overall winner of the 2016 Cyber Security Challenge UK.

He is the youngest ever contestant to win the competition which has been running for six years.

He was crowned last night at the end of a grueling three-day contest involving 42 contestants ranging in age from 16 to 56 years old.

The theme of this year's competition was based around a simulated attack on a fictional power company called Bolt Power. The competition was designed by the sponsors, PwC, and supported by GCHQ, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Bank of England.

The competition took place in Shoreditch, east London under the arches of a Victorian-age railway line. It was the culmination of a year's worth of qualifying rounds involving online and face-to-face competitions.

Cyber Security Challenge UK Ltd uses the competition to identify new cyber-security talent and raise awareness of the yawning skills gap. Over the years, 50 percent of the contestants have gone on to work in the industry.

Ben Jackson was delighted but stunned to have won. “It's hard to put into words how I feel,” he said, “but I can say it's a complete privilege to win such a well-renowned competition.

“I'm frankly amazed that I've won. This has been a brilliant few days and a life changing experience, meeting some great people along the way. I hope to now go on pursue a career in cyber-security, something which I really enjoy.”

Ben is in his second year of A-Levels and is also on the England judo squad. 

Ben receives his choice of rewards from a collection of career-enhancing prizes including valuable industry training, university courses, the best new technologies and access to strategic industry events – all provided by Challenge sponsors including PwC, Bank of England, GCHQ, SANS Institute, Royal Holloway University, De Montford University, NCC Group, PGI, (ISC)2, CompTIA, Bsides London, IISP, IAAC, 7Safe, Infosec Skills and CREST.

Stephanie Daman, CEO of Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “This year's Masterclass has been one of the most immersive and realistic competitions we have ever staged. PwC and our consortium of sponsors devised a scenario that mirrored the skills that cyber-security professionals require in the workplace.

“There are a huge number of cyber-security jobs on offer, and simply not enough people to fill them. Competitions like these give talented individuals a safe environment to showcase their skills in front of organisations that are looking for new recruits.”

Cyber Security Challenge UK encourages anyone to try the competition by visiting the website at cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk.

SCMagazineUK.com visited the Challenge on Thursday to talk to some of the contestants – watch this video to learn what it takes to compete.