A 26-year-old UK software developer has wowed the cyber security world by coming second in a global cyber security challenge designed and hosted by the US Department of Defense Cyber Crime Centre (DC3).
Chris Doman from Essex finished as the highest-ranked civilian in the competition, beating over 12,000 cyber teams from 53 countries.
Doman came second overall in the 2012 DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge, which also included professional cyber defence teams. He was only beaten by a team of professionals from multi-billion dollar US global aerospace and defence technology company, Northrop Grumman.
The UK contributed more participants to the competition than any other country, and was well represented at the top of the leader board, with two further UK technology amateurs, Matt Bartlett and Chris Moore, finishing in the top 12.
The DC3 Digital Forensics Challenge is considered one of the toughest forensic competitions in the world and consists of a number of scenario-based exercises.
Areas covered include file signatures, hashing metadata, data hiding, communication recovery, and information concealment.
The competition is run in the UK through Cyber Security Challenge UK. Doman said he only decided to enter at the last minute.
"It's a year-long competition but I only decided to enter a month before it closed so time was a bit of an issue," he said.
"Security has always been an interest. At school I would publish computer security and operating system design tutorials. However setting up my own company left me with less time to pursue this interest.
"The Cyber Security Challenge has certainly reignited my love for cyber security and problem solving. I did better than I expected, and it's given me a boost to start applying for work in this field."
Doman is a computer science graduate, a former web developer, and the co-founder of Ignite Research, a start-up he set up in 2009 with a school friend to tackle various projects using their software expertise.
Cyber Security Challenge UK chief executive Stephanie Daman said Doman's capabilities unearthed by competition underlined the worry more talented skilled IT professionals were missing out on the industry.
"Chris' success in this global competition and the performance of UK competitors more generally is a powerful demonstration of the level of amateur talent we have here in the UK," she said.
"Unfortunately for a profession like cyber security where employers are desperate to find new talent, Chris' story of an early interest in the subject that wasn't pursued in later life, is worryingly familiar."
"Without the opportunities provided by the competitions like the DC3 Digital Forensics and the Cyber Security Challenge UK, Chris and many others like him will be lost to the profession completely despite their undoubted ability."
For doing so well in the competition, Doman won a course of his choice from 7Safe's portfolio of university-accredited computer forensics, ethical hacking, and information security certification training courses.