Bradford computer expert thrilled at world cyber competition success

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Glyn Snowden Glyn Snowden

A computer enthusiast from Bradford triumphed over military and commercial teams in a prestigious global competition to find cyber security talent.

Glyn Snowden, 57, competing under the name ‘Professor Snowman’, beat more than 1,200 contestants from 49 countries to finish second in the 2013 Digital Forensics Challenge.

The competition, designed by experts at the US Department of Defense Cyber Crime Centre, is considered to be the toughest of its kind in the world.

Mr Snowden finished as the highest-ranked civilian, only losing out to a team of four from the $25 billion US security and defence technology giant, Northrop Grumman.

“The calibre of the other teams was extraordinarily high and it’s not yet sunk in that I was the overall civilian winner and UK winner” said Mr Snowden, who has worked in the School of Computing and Engineering at the University of Huddersfield for more than 21 years.

He had entered the competition, which sees candidates solve puzzles by creating their own custom tools, programmes and scripts, twice before, finishing 11th overall in 2011, and 14th in 2012.

Although Mr Snowden’s role as a senior technical support officer doesn’t deal with cyber security directly, he uses his passion and expertise for the subject to complement his current job.

“The only part of my role that requires these skills is when the university staff and students come to me with malware on their computers. I’m able to use the skills I’ve acquired to remove malicious programmes and make their systems more secure.

“I receive great satisfaction from solving the puzzles involved in analysing, recovering and identifying the artifacts in cyber security. I’ve always been interested in it and now that the internet is such a huge part of our daily lives, I believe it’s important for everyone to understand what it means to be safe online.”

Mr Snowden, who now lives in Calderdale, grew up on Halifax Road between Scholes and Hartshead Moor, and studied a part-time masters degree in computing at the University of Bradford from 1992 to 1995.

As a result of his second-place finish, Mr Snowden, who is also a member of the British Computer Society, will receive a place on a 7Safe training course in Application Security Testing, worth more than £2,000. The three-day course involves learning how to identify security vulnerabilities in web applications such as web-based email and shopping websites.

He also plans to enter more Cyber Security Challenge competitions.

“The competitions allow me to assess and expand my knowledge of cyber security, so I’ll continue to do them,” said Mr Snowden.

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