From a young age I have always been fascinated with computers and was pretty sure that I wanted to pursue a career that involved them.
When I applied to 6th form college, I decided to follow what I considered my “favourite” subjects; Maths, History, Physics, German and Computing. I dropped Physics within my first year, I dropped German after AS but carried on with the other subjects until the end of my time at College.
I remember reviewing my possibilities for University; my A Level results were disappointing (a classroom environment never suited me!), and despite my parents suggesting I wasn’t suited to an academic life, to my surprise there were all sorts of Computing courses that were available and appealed to me. When I looked through them, one title of a course really stood out; “Computer Forensics”. My logic, at the time, was that not only did it sound super cool but it was a twist on the traditional Computer Science degree.
I ended up going to Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett University) as I felt that the course contents and the campus were my favourite among all of the options I had available to me.
University life was great and the learning environment suited me much more – I’d be given some work or a problem and told to return a couple of weeks later with an answer. I ended up graduating with a First Class Honours degree; a massive performance difference from my A Levels!
I got my first job through speaking to a guest lecturer after he had delivered a lecture to me and my peers. My job title was “Digital Forensic Investigator” and consisted of me accepting instructions to help them defend their clients by analysing mobile phones and computers. This work was fascinating – I met a lot of legal professionals, police officers and I even spent time at Magistrate and Crown Courts.
Unfortunately, in the wake of some changes to Legal Aid funding I was made redundant in 2011, just over a year after taking up the job, and spent a period of almost 3 months unemployed. In a stroke of luck, an ex-course friend of mine had just got a job and referred me for a “Security Analyst” role at a very large Defence Contractor. I successfully interviewed, and took the job which involved a lot of shift work in a Security Operations Centre (SOC). I predominately spent my time watching networks for any signs of intrusion and recommending actions a customer could take to defend themselves – I was even part of the team that delivered the security monitoring for the London 2012 Olympics!
After 6 months in this job I was promoted to a “Senior Security Analyst” and then again a few months later to “Security Analyst Team Leader” where I was leading around 10 members of staff.
After 3 years I moved on and after a couple of jobs, I got to my current employer where I started by being the most senior Security Analyst as well as undertaking some engineering work on the systems that ran their SOC. After a year, I was promoted to my current job – the “Managed Security Services Architect”. Right now, I design, build and integrate new technologies into our SOC, bringing new ways to find bad guys breaking in to our customers’ networks. This work has taken me all over the UK, to Holland and even led me hosting an event for MP’s and Lords at the House of Commons in Parliament!
Working in Cyber Security is very challenging and has tested the limits of my technical capabilities, but after 6 years in this industry I’m still as engaged and enthusiastic as when I started.
Liam Stevenson – Managed Security Services Architect