Daniel Sewerynski grew up thinking it would be cool to be a hacker. Here, he shares his journey to cyber security discovery, with DIGIT, from wondering if hacking into computing systems really is as easy as the movies make it look, to studying Applied Computing in the hopes of embarking on a career that will see him be the James Bond of the cyber security world.
Growing up, I always loved the movies where the protagonist would hop onto a computer and foil the plan of an evil villain at the push of a button (literally). But they always left me wondering, how did they make it look so simple? Was it actually that simple? (I now know that no, it’s not) And how could I find out more?
I started writing code a number of years ago. At first, it started with creating websites on Notepad in my free time. Eventually, I was hungry for more, so I got a login and register page for my website, which introduced me to MySQL and PHP. It was then that I began to wonder how these technologies could be abused at the hands of cyber criminals. So, being the inquisitive teen that I am, I began to ‘tool up’ on cyber security and ethical hacking.
Christmas Cyber Lectures
It was just lucky that at that same time, the Christmas Cyber Lectures had rolled into town. With the notion of cyber security already swimming around at the back of my mind, the lectures pricked my curiosity further. Better yet, they raised awareness of future jobs that I had never even considered before, such as an ‘Information Security Analyst’ or an ‘Information Architect’.
Pitched well to an audience of secondary pupils, the lectures were entertaining, informative and exciting, with some brilliant competitions and challenges thrown in for good measure. All I can say is that everyone left wanting to know more. Especially me. Why? Because the lectures confirmed that computing and cyber security was the career for me.
Currently, I am in my first year at Dundee University studying Applied Computing. I chose this course because I felt that a general computing degree would give me more freedom in the industry, while still keeping all the doors open for jobs in the cyber security sector. Applied Computing is hands-on and interactive. It takes the traditional Computing Science course and distills it down so it’s less about mathematics and more about software development and user interaction.
Collaboration is Key
The course is far-reaching, covering a range of topics such as software design, creative interactions and web authoring. What’s struck me most is the teamwork that this course encourages. It well and truly debunks the myth that coders work alone in a dark room. Instead, it proves that collaboration is vital for a career in digital. Our group projects are fun and they give us a chance to work together to create something unique. In my first semester, we’ve done everything from creating a battleships-style game, to building a Snapchat-styled editor so that we can learn more about user interaction. How cool is that? But I guess the main lesson that I have learned during my short time at university is that we have the ability to impact the future in such a positive way through our digital creations, whether it be a life saving app or a fantastic website that can help millions across the globe. Now that’s pretty inspiring.
I want to jump straight into the industry immediately when I graduate. Who better to do that with than the UK’s intelligence and security organisation? I am hoping to apply for the GCHQ scholarship, which would give me the incredible opportunity to learn and garner valuable experience in the field of cyber security from the nation’s top experts. Who knows, maybe it will be me foiling the plan of an evil villain at the click of (quite a few) buttons in the future. Now that really would be cool.