National Cyber Security Challenge
Written by Paul Cocks – Malta Today
What is the national cyber security challenge?
Katya: In this challenge, participants will be given access to an online platform where there will be 12 challenges related to cyber security. The domains will be varied, including web and networks. The level of diffulty of the challenges will also vary including easy, medium and difficult ones. . In each challenge, participcants will need to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in that particular setup and will earn points in doing so.
So you will be testing participants’ knowledge on cyber security. Martina, when will this challenge be running, and how will it play out?
Martina: The challenge actually went live on 18 June and will run until 9 July. It’s taking place online, on a platform called Hacking-Lab. Anyone with an interest in this subject is definitely familiar with this platform already. As a competition, this will be run on an individual basis. We therefore encourage anyone interested to register immediately so they will have more time to work on the challenges and solve them.
Is this challenge open to everyone?
Katia: The competition is open to Maltese nationals aged between 16 and 25.
And how can anyone interested apply?
Martina: To apply, one should visit our website – mita.gov.mt/ncsc – where they will find all the relevant information about the competition. As soon as they click on ‘REGISTER NOW’ they will be redirected to the Hacking-Lab platform where they will need to supply some more details. Finally, to be able to access the challenge area, partipants will need to enter a code which they will find on our website.
So, if this is a competition, there will be winners announced. How will these be chosen?
Katia: The 3 participants with the most accumulated points will be the winners. Vouchers amounting to €500, €300 and €200 will be given out. What’s interesting is that at any point until the challenge closes, partipants will be able to view live rankings and know where they stand.
Martina, although this challenge is open to Maltese nationals, it also has an international dimension, correct?
Some of those participating in the National Cyber Security Challenge will be selected to compete in the European Cyber Security Challenge, which is organised every year by ENISA, the European Cyber Security Agency. This year it will be held in Vienna, Austria, in September and 22 EU member states will be taking part this year. They will be competing against each other and in different challenges. Something interesting is that the participants will also be able to compete together with different members of other teams.
How will those on the Maltese team be chosen? And how will they prepare for the European challenge?
KATIA: There will be 10 members on the team. Participants who perform particularly well in the national challenge will be invited to an intensive training programme organised by MITA and which will be led by foreign experts who themselves participate in similar challenges on an international level. Definitely through this experience the participants will not only benefit from the teachings passed on, but the mentors will also pass on their experiences on how to handle moments of pressure and tension.
Once this training is over, the 10 most promising participants will be chosen to form the Maltese team.
Has Malta participated in similar events before?
Martina: Malta fielded a team in this European challenge for the first time last year. We had a team that managed to train and prepare themselves in a short time and they did very well. After last year’s success, we were motivated to organise and invest in even more events to continue improving the level of participants so that Malta will keep on performing better every time.
How is the level of the Maltese participating in these events? And why should Maltese youths participate?
Katia: We definitely encourage more people to participate. All these activities we organise always serve to further raise awereness and to educate the public about the importance of cyber security. We know how important this subject has become. Martina and I had the opportunity to travel to Prague with Team Malta last year. You go through so many emotions: it can be stressing but it is definitely something worth experiencing. And the fact that you are representing Malta, gives you a certain impetus to continue organisig and encourage further participation in such activities.