Flying the flag for girls in European Cyber Security Challenge

Katy in Year 13 was part of Team UK and just one of nine girls out of 200 competitors in the competition.

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17th October 2019 — Amazing achievement for Katy in Year 13 who was part of Team UK competing in the European Cyber Security Challenge.

The team was made up of the best of the UK’s emerging cyber specialists (aged 16-25) working with industry leaders who provided the technical training to ensure the team had the best chance in the competition.

They competed in a three day competition in Romania along with 19 other countries and put in an extremely impressive performance placing fifth overall.

Katy talks about her experience:

“To get into the team I competed in two online qualifiers and was chosen to attend the Santander face to face in Leicester. Everyone who was selected to attend was fighting for a place on Team UK!

We arrived in Romania on October 8th and had a hardware test where we tested all our equipment and first met the competition organisers and other competitors.

October 9th was the first day of competition. We started at 10am and worked for 8 hours until 6pm on the challenges. There was a wide variety of challenges including Reversing, Forensics, Web, Cryptography, Hardware and Wifi. I focused on the Crypto and Forensic challenges but after they were all completed half of the team was working on the Wifi and Hardware challenges as they were harder than the rest and required more thought. The Hardware challenge was called Blinky box. It was a black box on our table with flashing lights which we decoded from Morse code. On the other side of the room there was also another Blinky light which was harder to decode as all the light blinks weren’t evenly spaced out. This made it really hard to complete the challenge.

Every team had to complete something called the Band stand. This is an escape room style challenge where each team got 25 minutes to try and complete all five challenges and ‘free Freddy’. There was lock picking, code breaking and forensic work to try and free Freddy. This was really fun and was a good break from the computers.

After the first day we were 4th on the leader board and went out for a team meal that night and met lots of other contestants.

The second day started again at 10am and had the same challenge categories. We kept moving up and down the leader board as the day went on and we were aiming for top 5. At 4pm the score boards froze so you couldn’t see where anyone was anymore. At this time, we were 6th. We completed a challenge during the frozen boards so we had some hope of moving up into the top 5 but we didn’t find out until the next night where we had come.

The next day there were conference talks and I did an interview with some people talking about girls in the competition as I was one of nine girls out of the 200 competitors. At the presentations that evening we found out that we came 5th which we were all really happy about.”

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