Imperial College London

Imperial students to take on Inter-ACE cyber security challenge


Competitors at work at Inter-ACE 2017

Two teams from Imperial will compete at this year's competition

Students from Imperial will be taking on competitors from 17 of the UK’s other leading universities in a two-day cyber security competition.

Now in its third year, Inter-ACE is supported by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre to attract the best young minds into careers in the sector.

£10,000 in cash prizes is on offer, alongside the opportunity to compete with the best of the USA in ‘Cambridge2Cambridge’, a transatlantic contest to be held later this year.

Two teams from the College - Empire and H4ck3rM4nz99xD - will be taking their place among 34 teams from 18 UK universities. They will face over 20 challenges set by experts from the University of Cambridge and sponsors including Context IS and Palo Alto Networks. The two-day event, taking place at the University of Cambridge on the 16 and 17 March, will culminate in a ceremony dinner at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Inter-ACE will simulate a number of scenarios, including working to prevent a cyber-attack on the infrastructure of a fictional city and the results of a successful tap on an undersea data cable. Competitors will develop and hone penetrative testing skills. These skills include the binary reverse engineering of malware, breaking into a web application such as an online payment system, decoding secure communications and piecing together intercepted data.

From the classroom to the competition

Imperial’s Vice-Provost for Education, Professor Simone Buitendijk, said: “As a leader in the field of cyber security the College is delighted to see another cohort of students competing in Inter-ACE - one of the most challenging competitions of its type.

“I look forward to seeing our students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real world scenarios. It is this reputation for building critical thinking skills that is at the core of the learning experience at the College.

“We wish our students well and hope Imperial will be successful in taking home the trophy for a second year in a row.”

Put to the test

Professor Frank Stajano of the University of Cambridge, the founder of Inter-ACE, said “Protecting IT and infrastructure means understanding how it can be attacked. The head of the National Cyber Security Centre, Ciaran Martin, is absolutely right in that a major cyber-attack on the UK is a now matter of “when, not if” and we must recognise that the UK faces an urgent skills shortage.

“Inter-ACE gives future cyber security professionals the opportunity to test their skills against the best and meet others in their field and future employers. This is about engaging with the next generation of cyber security talent, and raising awareness of this vital, interesting and exciting career choice."

The 18 universities sending teams to Inter-ACE are Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Birmingham, the University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, De Montfort University, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University, Imperial College London, the University of Kent, Lancaster University, Newcastle University, the University of Oxford, Royal Holloway University of London, the University of Southampton, the University of Surrey, University College London, the University of Warwick and the University of York.


Murray MacKay

Murray MacKay
Communications Division


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