Lancaster University and National Cyber Force deliver ‘hackathon’

A University in Lancashire teamed up with the government’s National Cyber Force (NCF) to deliver a ‘hackathon’ event for the cyber experts of the future.

The event, the first of its kind delivered by the NCF, saw some of the North West’s brightest young cyber talent put to the test at Lancaster University. Held within the university’s cutting-edge computer labs on April 12, the hackathon is one of the first major initiatives held by the NCF ahead of the move to its new home at Samlesbury in 2025. The hackathon provided a series of rapid computer engineering challenges, with participants working in teams to create new software and hardware while supported by CyberFirst alumni experts.

The activities were designed to teach participants about a range of emerging technologies, how they work, and how they can be exploited by cyber criminals. The challenges included a tiny computer to fit inside the rim of a hat while being able to connect to the internet and communicate with other devices; learning how security cameras work and how to control and take screenshots from them; and how to approach using AI models. In addition to the challenges, attendees heard from inspirational speakers and received insights into what it is like to work for the NCF as well as the rewarding range of cyber careers on offer to them.

Support for the hackathon was also provided by the Ministry of Defence’s Cyber Specialist Unit, part of the Joint Cyber Reserve Force, who helped to develop the challenges and facilitate the day. The hackathon challenges provide relevant experience of emerging and developing technologies and threats that cyber experts are grappling with in the real world. It is great to work alongside the National Cyber Force to help develop the skills pipeline of young cyber professionals that will be key to ensure the future security of the UK