Dan Summers, a postman from Wakefield, is the newly crowned winner of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, a nationwide competition set up to find future security professionals. One of his prizes is a Computer Forensics and Investigations course with The Open University, and Dan is keen to further develop his skills.
The Cyber Security Challenge UK is a series of competitions designed by leading security, education and government organisations in response to the worrying shortage of skilled professionals in the cyber security sector. More than 4,000 participants registered to compete in the 2010 Challenge which climaxed this weekend at HP Labs in Bristol.
Summers, a former computer science student, has held a number of IT positions but up until now never had an opportunity to work in his area of real interest – cyber security. Prior to the Challenge he fell out of the IT industry all together and recently took a position with the Royal Mail.
Having already navigated online and face-to-face cyber security competitions to reach the Masterclass final, he emerged victorious from a group of 25 contestants asked to apply their cyber skills within a life-like business scenario.
Finalists had to pose as a cyber security team brought in to improve security inside a modern company, complete with a corporate technology network to secure and board-level employees to placate. Working within his team, Dan developed security policies and advised decision makers on training requirements, whilst protecting the company’s network from constant and increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks and managing the various needs of the company employees involved in making critical business decisions.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, the Security Minister, the Rt Hon Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones said the connection between education, government and industry was crucial in finding a solution to the skills gap in cyber security. She highlighted the role that retraining will play in developing new talent and added “The Open University is extraordinarily apt for delivering skills in this area.”
Kevin Streater, Executive Director for IT and Telecoms at the Open University is also Chair of the talent management committee at the Challenge. He said: “Dan is a great example of how anyone can retrain to pursue a career in IT security. He is a classic case of someone with the talent and aptitude this industry desperately needs but without a clear path into a career. At a time when we desperately need to increase the talent pool in this sector, this benefits the individual, the cyber security industry and the nation.”