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UK Cyber Security Champion Revealed

Published: 12/03/12

Cambridge first year student beats thousands to become UK’s new cyber superhero.

Cyber Security Challenge UK announces new programme - open for registrations today at www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk

Challenge website content on careers and education advice grows

A new UK Cyber Security Champion was announced today at the Cyber Security Challenge UK Awards in Bristol. Jonathan Millican, a first year university student originally from North Yorkshire currently studying at Cambridge University, and one of thousands of registered candidates, was awarded the accolade having successfully navigated his way through a series of online and face to face competitions over the past six months. To reach the winner’s podium he had to demonstrate a range of technical, communication and leadership skills at this weekend’s Challenge Masterclass grand final, designed by HPLabs and Cassidian, where his performance was judged to be the best of more than 30 finalists.

Jonathan now receives his choice of reward from a collection of career-enhancing prizes which has grown in value three-fold since last year to over £100,000 and includes bursaries for university places; internships at private companies; industry training courses; access to industry conferences, and membership to professional bodies such as the National Skills Academy for IT.

Russ Taylor, a technician in the RAF, was the runner up.

Speaking at the ceremony Millican said “I’ve never really thought about cyber security. The degree I’m currently undertaking in computer science was largely out of general interest in the subject. This award has acted as validation that I might have the skills to become a cyber security professional. What’s important is that what I have learned through this process has not just come from undertaking the competitions but from the people I have met, both candidates and professionals that together have offered a fantastic insight into an industry within which I am now seriously considering a career.”

Keynote speaker at the ceremony, Jonathan Hoyle, Director General for Cyber Security at GCHQ said, "GCHQ are proud to be sponsoring the Challenge and are keen to assist in developing the cyber security talent pool for the benefit of the whole of the UK. It is through initiatives such as this that organisations, be they in the public or private sector, can continue to develop and maintain our leading edge in cyberspace by being able to recruit the right people with the right skills."

Jonathan is the Challenge’s second champion. Last year’s winner – Dan Summers, a postman from Leeds – found his award a catalyst for a change and quickly moved from delivering the post to keeping it safe when he was asked to become part of Royal Mail’s own cyber security team.
The Masterclass Final

The team from HP and Cassidian that put together the Masterclass – a simulation of a company experiencing security challenges within which finalists have to identify the problem, identify the solution, and sell it to the company’s decision makers – felt the test they put in front of the Challenge’s 30 finalists was representative of the real world.

“The Masterclass is designed to be a true representation of what cyber security professionals are up against, explains Roy Matthews, Cassidian’s Cyber Defence Lead. “So it’s hard work, varied, intensive and hugely rewarding. Everyone who took part now understands the reality of working in this industry.”

“HP and The Cyber Security Challenge are inspiring people to develop the skills needed for successful careers in cyber security, by highlighting the real cyber threats facing organisations today,” explained Richard Brown, HP Labs, Senior Research Manager. “This is the second Masterclass HP has been proud to host, and is a demonstration of our commitment to improving the UK’s IT cyber security skills and boosting employment in our dynamic IT sector generally.”

2012/13 Challenge Competitions Programme Launched

At the same event Judy Baker, director of the Cyber Security Challenge UK gave an overview of the Challenge’s programme for 2012/13.  Jay Abbott, Director Threat and Vulnerability from PwC, who chairs the Challenge Competitions Board described the competitions which begin in April and represent a bigger, more varied challenge for budding professionals.  (ISC)2, BT and Get Safe Online have all joined the Challenge as competition writers.

Baker also announced the release of a raft of new guidance, advice and information through the Challenge website www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk including sponsors’ answers to candidate questions on careers and courses. The Challenge will be continuing to develop this resource, building up the information available to help inform those interested in learning opportunities or careers in cyber security.

Existing key sponsors such as PwC, Sophos, SANS Institute, QinetiQ, The Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance, GCHQ, HP, Cassidian and BT have all signed up again for another year of support. New elements to the incoming programme include:

  • SANS Institute, the founding Challenge sponsor is bringing its exciting NetWars competition to the UK as part of the Challenge’s latest programme of activity. Candidates will qualify to play NetWars by successfully completing an earlier virtual cyber security competition, the first of which goes live in April. NetWars also represents the first opportunity for candidates to compete alongside existing professionals who will now be allowed to enter this Challenge to test and improve their own skills. Professionals have previously asked to participate as a way to improve skills across the community, but because the Challenge is focused on bringing new blood into the industry it has not allowed those already employed in cyber security to be eligible until now. Under the new system professionals will be charged to take part and will not be able to win the career-enhancing prizes offered to non-professional candidates but they will be able to access a fabulous game for training and development at a fraction of its usual cost. The money raised by professional entries will be used to help fund the ongoing work of the Challenge. 
  • New Challenge sponsors BT and Get Safe Online are joining forces on a new competition called ‘Can You Talk Security?’. Planned for launch at InfoSec in April, the competition invites people to demonstrate creative and innovative ways to help small businesses understand the threat and act quickly and effectively to secure themselves. Potential candidates can register their interest on the Challenge website today www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk
  •  This year QinetiQ and the (ISC)2 Application Security Advisory Board will be teaming up to create a new Secure and Control competition stream.  This will test instincts for secure software development in qualifying rounds for the opportunity to program and control robotic devices in a unique face to face competition later in the Challenge programme.
  • The Challenge is working hard to confirm the exciting new idea of a Cyber Camp for our younger candidates in the 18 to 25 age group. The idea is that a four day weekend residential experience, to be hosted by new sponsor Lancaster University, would provide a fun way to encourage and nurture the next generation of professionals by training them in cyber defence techniques and introducing them to some of the UK’s cyber security leaders.
  • There are also exciting plans afoot to launch the first non-technical stream of competitions this year. Focused on risk analysis and policy development, this stream is designed to demonstrate that cyber security professionals need more than just technical skills to succeed in their roles.

“Every new Challenge programme is designed to expand the opportunities on offer for non-professionals to build a career in cyber security,” explains Baker. “This is our most ambitious programme yet. It combines competitions, education opportunities, career enhancing experiences, a wealth of online guidance, and networking events to make the Challenge a valued  source of information and learning about how to become a cyber security professional. We are gearing up for  new candidates to register with us today and be kept informed as each new competition comes on line.”

How to register

Anyone interested in registering for the new Challenge programme should visit the website - www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk for more information.

For all press enquiries:

James Romero - Proof Communication

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