The 2015 Cyber Challenge Australia gets underway tomorrow — the 24-hour competition that gives tertiary students a platform to showcase their technical skills and potentially kick-start a career in cyber security.

In 2014, I took up the opportunity to compete in the Cyber Challenge with Swinburne University’s Cyber Security Club. I was unsure of what to expect. What would the Challenges be like? Would this benefit my career in cyber security? So I applied for a spot on a team.

On reflection, it was a great move. My participation in last year’s challenge led to me getting a job at Telstra where I have worked as a technical specialist in the Security Technology Advisory Team for the past nine months. I’m a part of the team that advocates for, and advises the business on how to improve our security posture through the use of technology controls. We drive initiatives in other business units to improve our security implementation and publish the Security Best Practice guidance for our staff. I’ve also been working behind the scenes on the Cyber Challenge itself, and it’s just as exciting this time around!

The Cyber Challenge presents teams with a fictional network scenario. Teams will have their skills put to the test in various categories including forensics, network analytics, and cryptography as well as cracking hashes. Teams are then tasked with offering strategies to improve future cyber security in the network.

The top team at the end of the Cyber Challenge will attend the DEFCON, Ruxcon and Kiwicon events in Las Vegas, Melbourne, and New Zealand. There are heaps of other great prizes, including tablets and phones. The added bonus is the chance to be noticed by industry leaders, a potential career springboard for students.

As a past competitor, I would advise this year’s competitors that teamwork is the key. My team and I had our fair share of ‘face-palm’ moments. However, it was drawing on each other’s knowledge base that allowed us to accumulate points. It’s tempting to get fixated on a single challenge but remember, cyber security is multi-faceted, fresh eyes on a problem can make all the difference.

I pushed my technical and communication capabilities, while gaining invaluable experience. Now, I contribute to the development and maintenance aspects of the Cyber Challenge. It has been rewarding to be involved in such a fun event, firstly as a student and now as I begin my career as a cyber security professional.

I wish this year’s competitors the best of luck!

For more information about Cyber Security Challenge Australia visit cyberchallenge.com.au/