Ready, set, cyber challenge

20 July 2022

The New Zealand Cyber Security Challenge kicks off on Friday.

The largest cyber security challenge in New Zealand kicks off this week with students from around Aotearoa preparing to hack, learn and solve their way to virtual glory - and a decent prize pool.

Following a nationwide ‘Capture the Flag’ competition last month, 150 participants have been invited to Hamilton to attend the flagship event being held at the University of Waikato campus, now in its 9th year. Over two days (22 and 23 July), young cyber enthusiasts from high schools and tertiary study meet, learn and network with industry professionals and their peers.

Participants are also presented with practical challenges that have involved cracking cyber security puzzles, defending a server against a fictitious ‘attack’ and hacking every-day devices, from drones and fridges to smart lights and home security systems. Cash prizes are awarded at various stages of the competition with a grand prize of $1500 up for grabs.

“With a desperate lack of numbers in the cyber security workforce, events like this are imperative for teaching and recruiting the talent of the future,” says event organiser and Waikato University Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, Dr Vimal Kumar.

“Right now we have a skills gap, particularly in cyber security. This event provides a platform for students to showcase their skills and be visible to their peers and to industry.”

Attendees at the New Zealand Cyber Security Challenge get the chance to meet, network and learn from industry professionals.

Dr Kumar says Waikato University predicted the skills shortage a long time ago - that prediction prompted the creation of New Zealand’s first Master of Cyber Security alongside the country’s first Cyber Security Lab.

“We took steps to fill the shortage but demand has massively outstripped supply. The Covid pandemic and border closure has exacerbated this to some extent, as we would usually rely on international expertise coming in. This has impacted the job market, which is a benefit to people in the country with fresh graduates often securing close to $100k salaries.”

In past years students have done ‘side challenges’ during the two-day event, hacking drones and the Internet of Things. This year Waikato is working with colleagues at Victoria University in Wellington to challenge students to hack into a machine in the cloud.

Dr Kumar says the secret to being effective in the cyber security space is being adaptable. “Things are rapidly evolving in cyber security, so we don’t focus on tools but more about the underlying foundations.Tools come and go but the ability to think, creatively solve problems and adapt will keep us ahead of the game.”

Speakers this year include Bhojraj Parmar from Mandiant, who will speak about the importance of unity and diversity in the industry, NZ Police talking about digital forensics and cyber investigations, and other industry professionals.

Latest stories

Related stories

NZ Cyber Security Challenge 2021

Securing New Zealand’s future: Cyber Security Challenge celebrates 10 years

Tomorrow, Kiwis across the country will be at the University of Waikato for the 10th…

Scholarship supports two worthy women in technology

The inaugural Endace Women in Technology Scholarship has been awarded to two University of Waikato…

The opening of G Block

Golden jubilee: 50 years of Computing at University of Waikato

This year, the University of Waikato is celebrating 50 years of Computing, marking a significant…

Ian Witten

Waikato pays tribute to open-source data mining trailblazer

The University of Waikato is mourning the passing of computer software and digital technology trailblazer,…

New app allows easy identification of all NZ plants, animals and fungi

Imagine being able to readily identify every plant and bird in your garden, on a…

University of Waikato signs new joint programme with Hainan University

University of Waikato is pleased to announce a new agreement with Hainan University in China…


The future is female: New women in tech scholarship launched

A new scholarship set to support women in computer science and software engineering has been…

Michael Tsai

White hat hacker and cybersecurity graduate protects NZ businesses online

Master of Cyber Security student Michael Tsai spends his days trolling client systems, searching for…

University provides Māori youth with STEM opportunities

It was a taste of University life for 76 Māori high school students from around…

Wānanga works to carve a pathway for Māori Artificial Intelligence

A hui that brought together Artificial Intelligence experts from all over around the motu has…

University design student collaborates with global creative group

A bright blue avatar created by a University of Waikato design student is on show…

Keshav Mahindra

Double major and university at 16

Keshav Mahindra achieved University Entrance and NCEA Level 3, all there was left to do…