The Cyber Security Challenge UK has announced a new competition designed by GCHQ that will test competitors' skills to protect against attacks to a simulated government IT system.

Named 'Balancing the Defence', it will require competitors to analyse a mocked-up network representing that typically found across government departments. They will be asked to look for vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit, prioritise the threats and, while working to a tight budget, suggest a range of defensive controls, both technical and policy-based, to reduce the risk to the network.

The competition will take place over seven days from Monday 1st to 8th October 2012, during which time the candidates will be fully briefed on the scenario and will be asked to submit a report with their proposed security solution.

The GCHQ architect behind this competition, 'Karl', said that he hoped that this competition would help uncover those who have the vital mix of technical ability and business awareness to make tough decisions in the best interest of an organisation.

“Cyber Security Challenge UK has proved itself a very accomplished mechanism for finding new talent. At GCHQ we are committed to finding and developing the new cyber security skills in the UK and these are the skills sets employers including ourselves are most interested in,” he said.

Stephanie Daman, CEO of Cyber Security Challenge UK, said: “Balancing the Defence is part of our new Risk Analysis and Policy Stream that puts our candidates in the shoes of the professionals and makes them answer some difficult questions – Where do the biggest threats come from? Are there some risks I have to accept? What impact will my changes have on the organisation?

“These are questions which cyber security professionals grapple with every day and answering them requires an aptitude that isn't easy to identify from traditional CVs and job interviews. We need a new approach if we are to find people with these skills in the numbers that the industry desperately needs. No organisation is better placed than GCHQ to help us deliver this.”

The winners from this virtual competition will be invited to a face-to face competition with 30 candidates from the GCHQ competition and a second virtual competition - Dtex System's Insider Threat game. Winners selected at this event will then be invited to attend the Challenge's Masterclass and Awards weekend on the 9th and 10th March 2013.