Wakefield postman wins Cyber Security Challenge

Dan Summers has won prizes worth over £37,000 in the information security talent contest, while the government has said it will contribute £18,000 to the next challenge from a £650m cybercrime pot
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

A postman from Wakefield has won the Cyber Security Challenge, a major competition designed to find UK information security talent and encourage people into the profession.

Cyber Security Challenge

Dan Summers won the Cyber Security Challenge, and Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones says the government will invest £18,000 in the contest. Photo credit: Cyber Security Challenge UK

Dan Summers beat 25 finalists to win the Cyber Security Challenge award, which amounted to more than £37,000 worth of prizes and was presented on Sunday. The competition kicked off in July, sponsored by a consortium of government and private sector organisations.

"This was the most intense and rewarding experience of my life," Summers said in a statement on Monday. "I'm just so glad I did this. Having met the people in the industry and seeing how capable and welcoming they are, I'd love to work alongside them, so I'll be looking closely at all the opportunities that have developed as a result of my involvement with the challenge."

Summers completed online and face-to-face challenges to reach the final, in which teams of competitors had to deal with simulated cyberattacks on a ficticious company while keeping board members calm. Summers' team also had to develop security policies and manage executive demands, while defending company networks.

First prize included: an Open University course; memberships to the British Computer Society and Institute of Information Security Professionals; and exams from the Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (Crest).

The runners-up received prizes including complimentary entrance to the Crest testing facility and paid fees for an exam and a course of choice. Second-prize winner Stuart Rennie also got a Global Information Assurance Certification exam from the Sans Institute.

UK security minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones said the government will put in £18,000 for the next Cyber Security Challenge, as part of £650m in funding across cybersecurity efforts announced in October 2010.

"My own particular challenge to the current sponsors and potential new sponsors in this room is to collectively find the remaining funds required in order that we can all reap the benefits of inspiring another crop of talented individuals to be sat here with us this time next year," Neville-Jones said at the awards ceremony on Sunday.

This was the most intense and rewarding experience of my life. I'm just so glad I did this.
– Dan Summers

Registrations for the 2011 challenge will begin on 28 March. Cyber Security Challenge sponsors this year include the Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance, PricewaterhouseCoopers, QinetiQ, Sophos, HP Labs, Science Applications International Corporation, Cassidian and the Sans Institute.

The government views the Cyber Security Challenge as part of its response to cybercrime, which has included allocating £63m to cybercrime policing.

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