The Cyber Security Challenge UK (CSC UK), a series of national events designed to encourage talented professionals to join the UK IT security industry, is a government- and industry-backed initiative that has enabled 40 participants to secure IT security roles.
Computing had questioned whether the programme was having an impact, given that its latest winner, chemist Stephen Miller, had no desire to switch from his role at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to a cyber security position.
But Chris Doman, a 27-year-old former software developer from Essex, believes that the challenge is a success.
Doman triumphed over 1,200 cyber teams from 53 countries on his own to finish second in a US military cyber security competition, designed and hosted by the US Department of Defense Cyber Crime Centre (DC3) and run by the CSC UK - he missed out only to a team of professionals from aerospace and defence technology firm Northrop Grumman.
Doman is now a senior associate in PwC's cyber threat detection response team, and he told Computing how the Cyber Security Challenge helped him to get to where he is now, and offered advice to those looking to sign up to the next challenge.
Q. What is your background, and why did you apply to participate in the Cyber Security Challenge?
Doman: I started programming at school, and got into the security side of things. I used to look online at competitions and entered some, and set up some of my own as well.
I went to university and did computer science at Cambridge, and after that I worked as a web developer, and started my own company [Ignite Research] with a friend in 2009. It was a big data company, in which we had to crawl the web and find data on hotels and set up sites based on that.
Although the big data side of things was interesting, the actual application of it wasn't. So I saw the Cyber Security Challenge - which I remembered seeing a few years before - and signed up to it as I had an interest in the cyber security field.
Q. So was it the challenge that got you the role that you're in today?
Doman: Yes, definitely. I wasn't really applying to places because I wanted to see what I could do, and after I did well in the forensic competition then [companies] started talking to me. It was great to demonstrate what I could do, it's quite hard to demonstrate [those skills] without something like the challenge around.
Q. Do you believe there is a cyber security skills gap?
Doman: Yes. We're recruiting ourselves and we're asking around if anyone knows people with the required skill set. [Cyber security] is growing very fast, things have changed, more companies are being attacked and there's a lot more money involved, so there is definitely a skills shortage in keeping up with that.