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The way forward for cyber-war training

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Hacking and anti-cyber-warfare training exercises could be the way to support the UK government and play a major role in the training of IT security experts in the future.

The suggestion has been made by IT security company MWR InfoSecurity, which attracted security experts from all over the world to HackFu, a three-day training exercise held at the RAF Air Defence Museum in Norfolk, which pitted participants from 20 countries.

Experts carried out a series of innovative themed exercises which involved hacking into systems that had been specifically set up to test their skills. Some systems had specific vulnerabilities built in that had to be found.
The experts were then put into cyber-attack and defence teams to pit their new found knowledge against each other.

Martyn Ruks, technical director at MWR InfoSecurity, says: “HackFu may be the model we need to use for all future cyber-security training. It is centred on practical experience of problem solving and aims at bringing people together to collaborate in anti cyber-warfare activities. While the theme based exercises are fun, they are enabling the experts of the future to counter serious threats.”

He says: “This is really about supporting Government plans to secure the cyberspace and equipping the current and future generation of experts to meet the rapidly evolving needs of the cyber-security industry, combining teamwork with important fundamental technical and problem solving skills.”

Ruks adds: “The recent announcement that high level IT security experts are to be trained at two university research centres, with £7.5m of Government and research council funding, is very welcome.”

The event gathered over 75 people from multiple IT security companies, large global end-user organisations and various countries from all over the globe, including experienced consultants and new graduates.
MWR also ran a competition to find more talented people to get involved and win an entry to HackFu.

Participants faced challenges such as the analysis of an electronic bug that was transmitting secrets back to enemy operatives. They competed in teams against each other in several anti cyber-war exercises.
The skills acquired were across a broad range of disciplines that covered mobile security, web applications and incident response issues, which are indispensable to face current cyber-security threats.

Ruks says: “This year’s HackFu was a great success as it provided a space for high level industry consultants and future experts to share knowledge, ideas and innovative techniques that will be critical to protect against cyber-attacks and modern threats.”

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