First Cyber Security Challenge winner announced
First Cyber Security Challenge winner announced

A postman from Wakefield has been named as the winner of the inaugural Cyber Security Challenge.

Dan Summers beat 25 other candidates who participated in the grand final to be named as the overall winner and collect a portfolio of prizes including: a SANS Institute course and the GIAC exam; an Open University course; opportunities to take exams with CREST; and memberships of the Institute of Information Security Professionals and the British Computer Society.

Having already navigated an online and a face-to-face cyber security competition to reach the Masterclass final, Dan had to demonstrate his combination of technical and business skills in a simulated corporate security scenario developed by challenge sponsors Cassidian and HP.

Finalists had to work in teams, posing as a cyber security team brought in to improve security inside an accurate representation of a modern company, complete with a corporate technology network to secure and board-level employees to placate.

Working within his team, Dan had to develop security policies and advise decision makers on training requirements, whilst protecting the company's network from constant and increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, whilst managing the various needs of the company employees involved in making critical business decisions.

He said: “This was the most intense and rewarding experience of my life. 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.”

The challenge confirmed that registrations for the 2011 competition will open on the 28th March when a new website is launched. To start the next challenge, security minister Rt Hon Baroness Pauline Neville Jones confirmed the Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance's (OCSIA) continuing sponsorship, and a commitment of £180,000 as part of the Government's National Cyber Security Programme.

“The Cyber Security Challenge is a superb example of the genuine partnership between government, academia and the private sector that needs to be built if we are going to achieve the larger and more highly-skilled cyber workforce we need”, Jones said.

“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.”

Stewart Room, partner in the privacy and information law group at Field Fisher Waterhouse and a director at the challenge, said: “We started the Cyber Security Challenge almost 12 months ago and what a year it has been. We've started a company, run three competition streams, had over 4000 competitors, attracted acres of super press coverage and generated hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of sponsorship.

“The UK government stepped-up to the plate and gave us an annual grant of £180,000. Thanks very much indeed to our very enlightened security minister, Baroness Neville-Jones. This is what it is about. A true public-private partnership, working together for the common good. I suppose that you can call this ‘The Big Society' in operation.”

Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute. “The Cyber Security Challenge is a wonderful way to demonstrate the differences between those with advanced skills and those who just talk and write about security but have no ability to execute. Every organisation that hires cyber security workers should be supporting this challenge. How else can we hope to build a pipeline of talented young people who can fill the important jobs?”