27 November 2019

Cyber Crime CupSeg Fault Squad from Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) has been announced as the winner of The Cyber Crime Cup  2019,  the first time a cyber security competition has been held live as a spectator eSport.

Organised by members of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and sponsored by BT, the challenge was to hack a fictional internet banking site. Each team started the competition without a bank account and had to set one up. The winners were the team that stole the most amount of money - and Seg Fault Squad managed to steal £27,000 in 30 minutes.

The winning team of five, who won £1,000 said: “We entered mostly because we wanted to have fun. We’re friends and we’re looking at info security. It was a surprising experience - a good opportunity to learn, and was very relevant to computing and to the future. It’s nice that we can showcase our Royal Holloway University’s excellence in cyber security too.”

The event was held live at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester in front of an audience of 360. Teams from 10 universities competed for three hours, then a final play-off was held between the two top teams. The audience watched the challenges as they happened via giant screens around the auditorium and there was live commentary from Katarina Tasiopoulou from IBM and organiser, BCS member Adrian Thompson.

The winning team were presented with an incredible 5-foot-tall silver trophy and £1000, and runners up shared an additional £1500 between them.*

In second place were Manchester University who won £750 and said: “It was a surreal experience - really interesting, exciting and full of surprises.”

In joint third place were University of Edinburgh and University of South Wales.

Initially over 200 students from 65 teams at 35 universities entered the competition and completed a series of online qualifying rounds to go through to the final. Adrian Thompson, Chair of the BCS Preston and District branch said: “It was an amazing event and we’re really pleased with how it all turned out. Up until now, cyber security has never been considered an eSport, but this event changed that.”

This event was a game changer as typically, cyber security competitions are usually based around the traditional ‘Capture The Flag’ (CTF) type challenge which can take hours - sometimes days - and doesn’t make for a good spectator sport.

However, Adrian changed all that: “I came up with the idea of making it an incremental challenge and I developed CTF style cyber security challenges that take just 3-4 minutes to complete - and that is what makes them exciting. It ends up being more like Formula One - in that it’s such a close race - and that’s what keeps the audience gripped.”

Adrian believes that turning cyber security in to an eSport can help address real life security issues. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal - experts are increasingly convinced developing this type of cyber security competition has the potential to increase the interest of young people in taking up careers in this area. Adrian added: “There is a severe shortage of skilled workers – as well as a shortage of talent and diversity in this area, yet cyber security is critical to the function of almost everything we do these days. We urgently need to address this worrying situation and I believe that making cyber security in to an eSport is definitely a step in the right direction.”

Tris Morgan, Director, BT Security said: “We’re delighted to have been headline sponsors of the world’s first cyber eSport event, and it was a pleasure to award The Cyber Crime Cup trophy to Seg Fault Squad from Royal Holloway, University of London. In order to really tackle the cyber skills gap, we have to outline more routes into the industry, and this event has been a great opportunity to showcase how the talents needed to be successful in eSports can translate to security careers. It also helps to encourage interest from a more diverse range people in the industry, as bringing in people with different outlooks and ways of thinking is essential to tackle the diverse range of issues and roles we face.”

*Prizes:

  • £1,000 for winning team
  • £750 for 2nd place
  • £500 for 3rd place
  • £250 for top player

Additional prizes:

  • Each player on the winning team will also receive a Blackphone, each worth £1,800
  • The top two teams will each receive a BCS eSport jersey
  • The other 8 teams will each receive a hoodie from Hack The Box

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