The second winner of the annual Cyber Security Challenge was announced at the weekend.
Jonathan Millican, a 19-year-old student of computer science at Jesus College, Cambridge, beat thousands of other competitors over the past six months to win the challenge.
In the final weekend, Millican had to demonstrate a range of technical, communication and leadership skills in the Challenge Masterclass Grand Final, designed by HPLabs and Cassidian, where his performance was judged to be the best of more than 30 finalists.
This was a simulation of a company experiencing security challenges within which finalists had to identify the problem, solution and sell it to the company's decision makers.
The Cyber Security Challenge UK is a series of national competitions aimed at attracting talented people into the profession and informing them about cyber security careers. The first winner was announced in March 2011 as Dan Summers, who moved from his job as a postman to join the security team at Royal Mail.
Talking to SC Magazine, Millican said he initially read about the challenge in a newspaper and he felt he was capable of joining in as it "was open to non-professionals".
He said: “I worked my way around it, I am more interested in computers and this is more about what is there and finding out where I am. It is a learning process. I have done very little in gaming programming, it is more about building applications for social networking sites and schools.”
Asked if he was planning a career in information security, Millican said he wanted to complete his university course and then the masters course in information security at Royal Holloway University; part of his prize is a bursary to this.
He said: “I have got a few years to go with university but this is definitely something I will end up looking at, I may well go into cyber security as it is a very interesting area.”
Millican also won internships at private companies, industry training courses, access to industry conferences and membership to professional bodies such as the National Skills Academy for IT.
The final also featured the launch of the 2012/13 programme, beginning in April, and the launch of new competitions from BT, (ISC)2 and Get Safe Online.
Judy Baker, director of the Cyber Security Challenge UK, also announced the release of new guidance on the Challenge website, including sponsors' answers to candidate questions on careers and courses.
“Every new challenge programme is designed to expand the opportunities on offer for non-professionals to build a career in cyber security,” she said.
“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.”
Asked if he would recommend the Cyber Security Challenge to others, Millican said: “You should definitely enter if you are young. At the final stage you can get away with not being technical as you are part of a team and you can learn from others.”