Former signals intel leader named godfather of UK security

Sixth annual Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards honours former Royal Corps of Signals colonel and infosec pioneer John Doody

A retired Royal Corps of Signals colonel, John Doody, has been named the Godfather of Security at the annual Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards, which recognises the country’s best ethical hackers, rising stars, educators, cyber campaigns and security teams that are working hard both to protect the UK from digitally enabled crime and other threats, and raise awareness of cyber security issues.

Now working as director and founder of Interlocutor Services, a cyber consultancy he established in 2003 after leaving the forces, as well as being an adviser to other security firms and a well-known security speaker and advocate, Doody spent more than three decades in the armed services, which he joined after randomly walking by a recruiting office in York, after initially working in retail.

The self-described workaholic rose through the ranks, gaining qualifications in telecoms engineering and management in the early 1970s, which opened the door to his subsequent career in information security.

Doody went on to hold various strategic engineering appointments at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), including running system support for Ptarmigan and Wavell, the army’s tactical comms and command information system (CIS) services, respectively. He later became director in the procurement executive as project manager for army electronic warfare, battlefield target engagement system (Bates), air defence CIS system (Adcis) and Wavell, and worked on the research and development of electronic warfare simulation tools.

He ultimately spent 10 years as head of information assurance customer services at CESG, the government’s national technical authority for information assurance (now part of the National Cyber Security Centre) and GCHQ.

“I am emotionally overwhelmed and humbled to be selected for this prestigious award,” said Doody. “I am in my 63rd year in the profession, including my total commitment to the national cyber security posture, and will continue to serve the nation as long as I am able.

“Cyber security is the biggest growth profession in the UK and I am so privileged to be recognised for my dedicated evangelism on the subject.”

Now in its sixth year, the awards, orchestrated by cyber public relations specialist Eskenzi and supported by the likes of KnowBe4, Protiviti, Intaso and Procordr, were this year compered by stand-up and comedy writer Bennett Arron, who made headlines in 2007 after stealing the personal data of the then home secretary, Charles Clarke, in a stunt for a Channel 4 programme on identity theft. The prank backfired somewhat as it ultimately reinforced Clarke’s commitment to the last Labour government’s attempts to introduce identity cards for UK citizens.

The award ceremony also recognised a more recent establishment in the form of a new ransomware engagement and awareness campaign, #Ransomaware, a coalition of like-minded people and organisations set up by managed security services provider Talion earlier in 2021.

The campaigners are encouraging organisations to speak up about their experiences of ransomware without shame or judgment, on the basis that the more people who are prepared to talk about how they were attacked, by whom, and what they did about it, the better prepared the wider cyber community can be to face down cyber criminal ransomware gangs.

Other award winners included ethical hacker and author Andy Gill, data protection specialist Emily Overton, Glasgow Caledonian University’s head of cyber security and networks Jackie Riley, NCC Group pen testers Dale Pavey and Guy Morley, software engineer and security specialist Jenny Codes, security leader and anti-bullying campaigner Marilise de Villiers, the CyberNews research team, and Urenco Group CISO Alison Dyer. 

“Cyber security and the people within this industry are often not given the recognition and appreciation they deserve,” said award organiser Yvonne Eskenzi.

“By hosting this event, we are shining a light on all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to protect organisations from the threat of cyber crime. Thanks to our fantastic sponsors, we were able to host an amazing party at no charge to our attendees and acknowledge all the incredible and talented people in this industry.”

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

Data Center
Data Management