Huddersfield's Snowden flies high in US Defence cyber challenge

Technical support officer was only beaten by a team of four from Northrop Grumman

A senior technical support officer at the University of Huddersfield has flown high in the prestigious 2013 DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge, a global cyber security competition designed by experts at the US Department of Defense Cyber Crime Centre (DC3).

Glyn Snowden (presumably no relation to the infamous Edward Snowden) was placed second overall, losing out on the top spot by a handful of points.

This year saw more submissions than ever before, with 1,254 teams from 49 countries around the world entering.

The Digital Forensics Challenge is a team competition, but Snowden entered on his own and was second only to a group of four from $25 billion US security and defence technology giant Northrop Grumman, making him the highest-ranked civilian in the competition.

He completed all of the challenges using only Microsoft Word and open source, freeware and demo software systems.

The exercises required entrants to submit answers and accompanying methodologies to solve puzzles, ranging from image geo tagging analysis and data obfuscation to password recovery, file encryption and advanced steganography.

Some exercises had no known solutions and others required candidates to develop their own custom tools, programmes and scripts.

The other 60 UK entrants who registered through the UK Cyber Security Challenge were also well-represented at the top of the leaderboard, taking seventh, 17th and 22nd place.

Glyn Snowden has worked in the school of computing and engineering at the University of Huddersfield for over 21 years, and never expected to be placed second in the world in the competition.

He said: "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."

Although his job involves working with computers he doesn't directly work in cyber security. "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," he said.

For his efforts Snowden received a place on the 7Safe university-accredited training course in application security testing worth over £2,000. The three-day course involves learning how to identify security vulnerabilities in web applications such as web-based email and shopping websites.

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