NZ Cyber Security Challenge 2021

Every year, Waikato University holds the NZ Cyber Security Challenge, which brings the best minds together to compete in various challenges, covering the topics of forensics, cryptography, exploitation, reverse engineering, and binary exploitation. Lightwire is a Gold sponsor of the event, and has been a sponsor for a number of years. This year, $2000 was donated and Lightwire assisted in the challenge’s design. 

Why does Lightwire sponsor the event?

Lightwire grew out of a project conducted by the University of Waikato to ensure the rural connectivity gap was filled, so the heart of Lightwire lies in the university. Ruralnet (which is now Lightwire), brought connectivity to remote parts of the Waikato to ensure remote schools had  access the internet and learning outcomes could be improved.


Not to mention, we have employed many staff straight out of the university, most of whom who are still with us todayIf you’re keen to know more about our relationship with the university, click here to view our history. 

So, how does the challenge work?

The challenge was conducted in 3 roundsThe first round was an online capture-the-flag game where the top scoring contestants were invited to the following rounds on-campus at Waikato University on the 17th of July. This year saw 351 contestants enter the first round where they were tasked with solving a variety of security related challenges to find the hidden “flags”, each worth a differing number of points based on difficulty. The second round involved an “incident response” quiz, followed by the third rounds larger scale “capture the flag” competition. 


There were additional prizes for those who solved the most difficult challenges – as well as the top overall scoring competitors. Luckily, this year the challenge was able to run face-to-face, a welcome outcome after the limitations imposed by the 2020 lockdown. You can read more about the challenges and past winners here. 


On top of the challenge itself, the university uses the annual event as a chance to teach and empower students to pursue a career in cyber security. Keynote speakers are introduced at the start of the main event to illustrate where their career could lead them and how important the work in the field is, followed by a job fair after the event. Nuwan, one of Lightwire’s own Cyber Security Engineers, assisted throughout the event as a mentor and tech support.  


Lightwire believes that fostering and developing the skills of both NZ’s up and coming cyber security talent and the NZ cyber security community to be vital in ensuring a good security posture for NZ in the future. Nuwan adds;

Nuwan Naththandige
Nuwan NaththandigeCyber Security Engineer
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The events that have occurred in last 24 months is more than enough to consider cyber security as a necessity for business. In that regard, events like this helps a lot to attract workers into this space. It's also nice to see participants from secondary school level competing and winning with that outside-the-box mindset.

We are proud to sponsor and will continue to support the work that the university, and in particular, CROW (Cyber Security Researchers of Waikato) does for encouraging and educating younger students on the extended opportunities this field offers. To check out what career opportunities are currently vacant at Lightwire, click here.

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