H4cked Off: Cyber Security Challenge – worthy programme or waste of time?

By Sooraj Shah
11 Mar 2013 View Comments
Clock watching

The Cyber Security Challenge, a series of national events designed to encourage talented professionals to join the UK IT security industry, has just announced its latest winner, 28-year-old chemist Stephen Miller.

Further reading

Miller, from Hertfordshire, beat thousands of registered candidates in a series of competitions over the past year to scoop the prize.

But unlike last year's winner, Dan Summers, who took up a role at the information security team of the Royal Mail Group, Miller has no designs to switch from his current role at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to a cyber security position.

When Computing asked Miller why this was, he said: "I've made a career at GSK where I have worked for five years. While I am moving at one promotion a year it is difficult to just drop everything. I'm now a team leader and of course I could transfer at a similar level [in cyber security] where there is a clear career path, but I'm not in the situation where I'm looking to change."

And herein lies the problem: a programme dedicated to unearthing talent may have found that talent but it has not convinced that person that the IT security industry is somewhere he would like to work.

HP and Cassidian backed the Challenge final and Jonathan Bathurst, cyber lead, UK public sector at HP, admitted that he was disappointed that Miller did not want to seek a role in cyber security in the near future.

"It is a shame that Stephen is happy with his current position. But we saw a lot of other fantastic potential with other competitors. Some of them could be future champions if they sign up again for next year's challenge," he told Computing.

The situation is no doubt also disheartening for the many competitors who would love to work in the industry but who were overlooked, while someone who had no intention of entering the industry won the main prize.

Miller, though, defended the competition, stating that his winning the Challenge despite coming from a pharmaceutical background shows that competitors do not have to come from IT.

"While I'm not looking to move, it shows the talent pool is broader," he said.

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