Competition to crack a virtual terrorist HDD, break into CCTV systems

Sophos is calling amateur security talent to turn sleuth and to investigate confiscated crime scene computer systems belonging to a cyber terrorist group as part of the latest Cyber Security Challenge.

Assignment Flag Drive is the second competition in the 2014/15 program of online and face-to-face cyber battles.

This latest program sees the introduction of a new nemesis – The Flag Day Associates – the Challenge’s first recurring characters who will feature prominently in a storyline throughout this year’s competition.

The fictitious Flag Day Associates first appeared at the end of last year’s Masterclass’ awards ceremony in March this year, via a threat video featuring three masked individuals warning of a future cyber attack on the UK. The video below and further ‘secret’ details embedded within revealed a possible date of the cyber attack.

Last month, over 1000 amateur cyber defenders signed up to help decipher the first clue in the investigation of the Flags – a suspicious communication email identified by the National Crime Agency and described as potentially having been sent between members of the group.

To mark the launch of Assignment: Flag Drive, the Challenge have revealed that the intercepted email has been traced to an abandoned warehouse in the English countryside. When the authorities arrived any previous occupants had vacated, taking all their equipment with them. Only an encrypted hard drive was left behind.

In their brand new online competition founding Challenge sponsors, Sophos, are calling on the UK public to use all their technical skills and curiosity to break into the captured system and report on what new information they can ascertain.

“This competition is going to be a lot of fun and include many of the key skills security professionals need in the workplace,” explains James Lyne, Global Head of Security Research at Sophos. “It will have forensic and offensive aspects to it and be accessible to all levels. Best of all is part of the game involves a collection of interesting Internet of Things devices. I’m looking forward to seeing the creative approaches the players take to overcoming the Associates.”

The highest ranked entrants from the Sophos competition will automatically qualify for the first of a series of reconnaissance meet ups as part of Operation Flag Day. Here, the most impressive candidates from the virtual assignments will be asked to report for duty in person at secret locations around the UK to carry out investigations face-to-face in teams.

As well as uncovering vital clues on the objectives and identities of the Flag Day Associates, these will determine the final line up of online defenders to take on the Flag Day Associates at the Masterclass final next year.

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