What is the European Cyber Security Challenge?
At present, cybersecurity professionals are in high demand. However, even though the amount of cybersecurity professionals has quadrupled during the last decade, existing demand is still not met. This is why many European countries are setting up national cybersecurity contests in order to find young talents in the field, encouraging them to pursue a technical professional career in cybersecurity.
It is the most important European cybersecurity competition. The best talents, who are selected by their own national competitions, represent their countries to compete versus the other national teams.
Since the first edition of the competition, the different member countries have pursued and shared clear objectives. In summary, they are:
- Identify talent in cybersecurity, contributing to alleviate the lack of qualified professionals in the sector and connecting young people with high potential with actors in the cybersecurity sector.
- Put cybersecurity at the service of society, enhancing knowledge in technical matters and highlighting the strategic importance for society.
- Promote friendly and cooperative relationships between attendees: participants, companies and representatives of each country.
- Attract a wider audience and increase the level of awareness about the need for more technical events of this type.
The competition is promoted by the European Commission and, in a broader sense, is framed within the general context of the EU Cybersecurity Strategy and the NIS Directive, which together with the European Security Agenda provide the general strategic framework for EU initiatives on cybersecurity and cybercrime.
Within this framework, the identification of talent in the field is important for the development of cybersecurity capabilities, and these national and European competitions serve to encourage, detect, train and empower the best young talents in each country.
Type of competition
The European Cyber Security Challenge championship is a technical Capture the Flag (CTF) team competition in which the best young European cybersecurity talents test their knowledge in different subjects.
In this competition, the organizing country together with ENISA designs the competition scenario, the challenges and the type of CTF. New developments are implemented every year, creating increasingly attractive and interesting editions for participants. The limit is set by the organizing country of each edition. The challenge modalities that different countries face are:
- Jeopardy: This is a simple and common model, with different categories of punctual challenges of different difficulty such as cryptography, reverse engineering, web exploitation, forensic analysis, steganography, hardware, etc. The goal is to get the highest number of points.
- Attack and defense: in this modality each country will have to defend an infrastructure with vulnerabilities while trying to penetrate the infrastructure of the rest of the competitors, that is, the teams have flags that they must protect from their opponents while trying to get their own.
In several editions, both modalities have been combined making a mixed CTF.
In addition to the technical part, with the aim of promoting other types of skills necessary in the workplace, the captain of each selection must perform a presentation to a jury explaining how they have solved one of the challenges, providing conclusions, recommendations and a strategic and business point of view.
INCIBE's role in the competition
INCIBE plays a decisive role as a representative of Spain in the Steering Committee of the European Cyber Security Challenge, in which relevant decisions are taken every year regarding the format, design and rules of the competition.
INCIBE shows a strong commitment to the objectives of the competition, which are aligned with different initiatives carried out in terms of talent promotion in the field. In recent years these actions have led to an ecosystem of detection, identification and attraction of talent in cybersecurity, in collaboration with training centers, universities and private companies, always seeking the complementary action of the initiatives that other agents are developping for professional training.
In every edition of CyberCamp, INCIBE selects the best Spanish cybersecurity young talents to compete in the next edition of the ECSC. As soon as the Spanish team has been selected, INCIBE provides high level advanced training with the objective of creating a high performance team, in which the sum of capabilities in different technical disciplines allows a good performance of the team in competition.
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