Tomorrow’s cyber elite head for Inter-ACE security challenge

The Cambridge Uni-hosted event is the UK’s largest ethical hacking competition for university students, featuring over 130 hackers from 18 unis

More than 130 competitors from 18 of the UK’s leading cyber security universities will pit their skills against one another in a two-day cyber security competition organised by the University of Cambridge. Now in its third year, the Inter-ACE is supported by GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre to attract the best young minds into careers in the sector.

Up for grabs is £10,000 in cash prizes and the opportunity to compete against the best of the USA in ‘Cambridge2Cambridge’, a transatlantic contest to be held later this year.

The competitors, organised into 34 teams, will face more than 20 challenges set by experts from the University of Cambridge and sponsors including Context IS and Palo Alto Networks. The event will take place on the 16th and 17th March 2018, culminating 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.

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.

“It’s also about making the good work of cyber security professionals much more visible. Like other initiatives, such as NCSC’s CyberFirst programme, the interesting experiences of the University students taking part in this year’s event will help to inspire those currently at school to consider a rewarding career in this field.”

Inter-ACE takes place in Cambridge on March 16 and 17. For further info, please visit

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