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Supporting the Next Generation of European Cyber-Athletes

Nicolas Castellon
Oct 31, 2023

Norway proudly hosted the European Cyber Security Challenge this last October, the same month as the EU’s Cyber Security Awareness Month. This is an annual event that brings together young talent from across Europe to compete in solving cyber security challenges and have fun together. Capgemini is proud to have been asked by NTNU to support and co-organize this event.

Top cyber talents from 35 countries – including teams from Finland, Sweden Denmark, and Norway, met last week in the city of Hamar to compete against each other and strengthen the European cybersecurity community.

In October top cyber talents from 35 countries competed against each other in Vikingeskipet at Hamar, Norway. Photo: Emil Nyeng / NTNU

This annual tournament was initiated by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and is supported by the European Commission. This was the 8th edition of the European Cyber Security Challenge (ECSC). Due to its rigorous national qualification rounds and the diverse skill sets needed on every team, the ECSC is referred to as the “European Cyber Olympics”.

Capturing the Flags

Contestants were challenged in solving tasks across highly technical domains such as web security, mobile security, crypto puzzles, reverse engineering, hardware hacking, and forensics. Solving these tasks earned the teams “flags”. Capture the Flag (CTFs) are competitions where participants collect points by either performing these tasks towards other teams, called “Attack/Defense”, or towards challenges developed by the organizer, called “Jeopardy” style challenges. These are not just technically demanding, but they are also fun and quite relevant to the digital world.

The Danish country team in action. Contestants were challenged in solving tasks across highly technical domains such as web security, mobile security, crypto puzzles, reverse engineering, hardware hacking, and forensics. Photo: Emil Nyeng / NTNU

Capgemini plays a vital role in helping customers in their digital journey, and security is at the heart of this journey. We believe that these types of events bring the cybersecurity community together and foster’s the cybersecurity thought leaders of tomorrow.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) organized the ECSC as part of their key role in educating Norway’s next generation of cybersecurity experts and exposing them to the best talent across Europe. Every year, NTNU graduates around 300 students with knowledge of cybersecurity. Unfortunately, these numbers are nowhere near enough to meet the growing demand for talent in the market.

A Smart and Vulnerable Society

In today’s age, technology stands as a pivotal force shaping our lives and the broader societal landscape. Through its advancements, we witness the creation of job opportunities, a decline in emissions, and the improvement of life-saving measures. The importance of technology on our world is unmistakable and profound.

As we transition deeper into this digital era, our exposure to vulnerabilities grows in tandem. The rapid pace at which technological innovations emerge often outpace society’s capacity to adapt and protect itself. Globally, we see on a weekly basis how governments and businesses fend off threats from cyber criminals seeking to bring services offline and access sensitive information, endangering both individual and collective well-being.

Nicolas Castellon, Head of Nordics Cybersecurity Practice at Capgemini, presenting to cyber-athletes at the European Cyber Security Challenge 2023. Photo: Emil Nyeng / NTNU

The array of these threats ranges from ransomware and phishing to distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks. More recently, the rise of AI-powered assaults indicates a clear escalation in the sophistication, speed, and professionalism of these malicious activities. Navigating this evolving landscape is undeniably challenging, underscoring the imperative for vigilance and adaptive strategies.

More cyber security experts please!

In an era where cyber threats to both the public and private sectors are escalating at an alarming rate, there is a pressing need to cultivate and deploy cyber security professionals equipped to thwart and counteract these malicious activities. According to the Cyber Security Workforce study, there is a staggering deficit of over 3 million cybersecurity professionals globally. Capgemini as a key player in this digital journey is actively looking for more skilled security personnel to meet customer demand.

The surge in sophisticated cyber criminals is undeniable and presents critical implications for both businesses and society at large. This amplifies the importance of cybersecurity proficiency in the current landscape. We should applaud and encourage young people who are leaning towards careers in this very important domain.

While the ECSC might be framed as a friendly competition, its significance extends far beyond. It serves as a platform that showcases Europe’s emerging talents who will become the cybersecurity thought leaders of tomorrow. Their expertise and dedication are essential to our digital future.


Nicolas Castellon

Head of Cybersecurity Capgemini Nordics
Nicolas is responsible for security advisory and managed security services across Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland at Capgemini Group. He has developed a track-record for working on complex strategic issues driven by technological and business needs, positioning cybersecurity as a key accelerator for digital transformation. He has worked in various sectors, including European agencies, Automotive, Manufacturing, Aerospace, Financial services, and Energy. His previous work experience includes NGOs and think tanks, where he has co-published various reports on Cybersecurity. Nicolas also provides guest lectures at Utrecht University, Leiden University, and the Clingendael Diplomatic Academy where he lectures on Cyber Security Governance and Cyber Conflict.