UK Crowns Third Ever Cyber Security Champion

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

GlaxoSmithKline employee Stephen Miller takes the top prize

The third edition of the government-backed UK Cyber Security Challenge ended yesterday with a 28-year-old chemist from Hertfordshire named the overall winner.

Stephen Miller, whose day job is lab team manager at major drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, had been trying to win the Challenge since it launched in 2010, without any formal training in cyber security. He receives awards worth over £100,000, including industry training courses and access to notable events.

The Challenge is attempting to fill the skills gap in the security industry, which the government has named one of its priorities.

Cyber security champion

Cyber-Security-Challenge-Logo square“It’s a result that gives me huge confidence to start applying this expertise to protect information and data in my own workplace. It’s also a powerful message to anyone who might question whether the Challenge is for them,” he said, in a statement.

“I came to this competition in 2010 with no background in cyber security and yet my own interest in the area, coupled with the experience I have built up playing the Challenge competitions, has resulted in me winning the whole thing.”

Miller took the top prize after competing in the Masterclass Final, which saw participants acting as cyber professionals at a fictitious technology communications supplier to a Formula 1 racing team, who had been attacked in the lead up to a race.

Runner-up was Steve Jarvis, 24 from Southampton, an IT worker for a hedge fund. He had no formal training either.

The Challenge organisers announced fresh competitions for next year, as well as its first ever dedicated education programme. The latter includes competitions designed for school pupils, as well as regional cyber camps.

There is also an iOS and Android that includes regular competitions and guidance on careers in the cyber security industry.

“Building cyber skills for the UK is one of the four main objectives of the UK Government’s National Cyber Security Strategy,” said Judy Baker, founder of the Challenge. “This expansion of the Challenge’s reach, coupled with our ever-evolving competitions programme and growing prize pot means that the Challenge will continue to play a vital role in achieving this ambition.”

Last year’s winner was Cambridge University student Jonathan Millican, a 19-year-old computer science student.

Are you a security expert? Try our quiz!