DMU student named among UK's best cyber sleuths

Following a challenging three-day cyber-attack simulation, a student from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been named among the best cyber security investigators in the UK.

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Harrison, third from the left, posing for a winning photo

Beating thousands of hopefuls, Computer Security student Harrison Speight joined more than 40 other competitors – including DMU coursemate Chris Hatton - to protect a fictional shipping company from live cyber-attacks, finishing in the winning team.

Known as the Cyber Security Challenge UK Masterclass, the competition is a culmination of a year of both online and face-to-face qualifying rounds, and this year was developed by BT together with Airbus, Cisco and DMU’s Cyber Technology Institute (CTI).

Working in teams, contestants also conducted a forensic analysis to build a case against the corrupt ‘employee’ using cutting-edge industry tools provided by partners and sponsors, and a unique platform created by the CTI.

Each team presented evidence to a mock court of law, featuring real barristers, to prove that all information was obtained lawfully with enough evidence to bring action upon the ‘employee’.

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The winning team hard at work

Currently on a year-long work placement, 20-year-old Harrison from Milton Keynes, said: “The masterclass was one of the most exciting cyber events I've ever been to. It was really well organised and contained plenty of challenging exercises throughout the three days.

“I think this experience will help my future career as the masterclass is definitely something employers recognise as unique and I feel super fortunate that I was able to compete in it.”

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Career-enhancing prizes to the tune of £120,000 were also up for grabs, with Harrison winning a place on an intensive one-week cyber security training course, a VIP experience at the BT Sports studios and a membership to professional cyber security group (ICS2). 

“I also won tickets to the Black Hat cyber security conference worth around £1,600, which is something I'm really looking forward to. I've always watched Blackhat talks on YouTube, but never thought I'd have the opportunity to attend the event for free,” said Harrison. 

Through his involvement in DMU Hackers, Harrison felt well-prepared for the masterclass, saying: “Without everything I’ve learned from the society, I think I would have really struggled qualifying online and through the face-to-face rounds.”

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Chris, pictured with Professor Janicke, all set to study at postgraduate level at DMU

Second-year Computer Security student and DMU Hackers Secretary Chris Hatton described the masterclass as an “intense and absolutely amazing” experience.

The 21-year-old from Birmingham said: “It was really different to what I expected as I’m used to working as an attacker. As a defender it can feel like you’re always one step behind, which was daunting, but it gave me insight into a role I’d never considered before.”

Chris, who initially left sixth form with no plans to study at university, also won a prize for his performance at the masterclass - a fully paid-for place to study Cyber Security MSc at DMU.

“I never thought I’d study at postgraduate level, so it’s amazing how far I’ve come since completing a Foundation Year in Computing,” he said.

“I’ve been hacking from a young age, but my course and DMU Hackers have shown me how you can make a career out of it.”

Professor Helge Janicke, DMU Director of the CTI, said: "We have a strong history with Cyber Security Challenge and were very proud to hear that Harrison and Chris had qualified for the masterclass. 

“Their success at the final is an indication of the quality of our Computer Security students here at DMU and the opportunities that our programmes offer to our graduates."

This year’s competition was also supported by Checkpoint, Darktrace, 4 Pump Court, the National Crime Agency and the Bank of England.

Posted on Wednesday 29th November 2017

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