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Cambridge first-year student wins UK cybersecurity challenge

Warwick Ashford

North Yorkshire first-year student at Cambridge Jonathan Millican has been crowned as the UK's second cyber security champion in Bristol.

The Cyber Security Challenge UK, backed by a consortium of local commercial, academic and public sector organisations, aims to attract and identify information security raw talent to help meet the demand for cyber security skills.

In the second competition, Millican surpassed thousands of other competitors as he worked through a series of online and face-to-face competitions over the past six months.

In the final challenge, designed by HPLabs and Cassidian, his technical, communication and leadership skills were judged the best of more than 30 other finalists.

Millican will receive his choice of reward from a collection of career-enhancing prizes which has grown in value three-fold since last year to over £100,000.

These include  bursaries for university places; internships at private companies; industry training courses; access to industry conferences; and membership to professional bodies such as the National Skills Academy for IT.

Russ Taylor, a technician in the RAF, was the runner up.

Speaking at the ceremony, Millican said: “I’ve never really thought about cyber security. The degree I’m currently undertaking in computer science was largely out of general interest in the subject. This award has acted as validation that I might have the skills to become a cyber security professional."

The competition provided "fantastic insight" into an industry in which he is now seriously considering a career, Millican said.

Keynote speaker at the ceremony, Jonathan Hoyle, director-general for cyber security at GCHQ, said: "GCHQ are proud to be sponsoring the Challenge and are keen to assist in developing the cyber security talent pool for the benefit of the whole of the UK. It is through initiatives such as this that organisations, be they in the public or private sector, can continue to develop and maintain our leading edge in cyberspace, by being able to recruit the right people with the right skills."

Winner of the first UK Cybersecurity Challenge Dan Summers, a postman from Leeds, found his award a catalyst for a change and quickly moved from delivering the post to keeping it safe when he was asked to become part of Royal Mail’s own cyber security team.


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