Investing in the future – Proact’s support of GCU’s SOC

Euan Birch, Security Operations Lead at Proact UK

It isn’t often that I feel nervous. I’m generally very good at controlling my emotions and staying focused on the task ahead.

Standing in the place where my road into cyber-security started (Glasgow Caledonian University, otherwise known as GCU), and knowing that I was now responsible for delivering a presentation to showcase not just the ability of the security team at Proact, but also our managed services and our trusted SIEM partner – LogRhythm – was one of those moments to feel nervous.

You never really know what the support is going to be like until you get there, and it was overwhelming to see a fantastic turnout including attendees from Proact, GCU, LogRhythm, the Ethical Hacking Society, lecturers, senior management and the IT department. They had come because they were fascinated by what has been achieved here. (I was speaking at the university’s Ethical Hacking Society, by the way.)

My part in the Security Operations Centre (SOC) project has encompassed numerous parts – from working with our team to promote and champion our work at GCU, to standing in a data centre at GCU plugging the cables into the servers. From the warehouse team to the account managers and techies, we have all played our part. We have shown GCU and the wider community how we at Proact demonstrate our core values – commitment, integrity and excellence.

Working as part of these new partnerships has been inspirational. There is no doubt that the new SOC test lab at GCU will be a highlight of many students’ academic experience as they look to get into the highly competitive and ever-expanding realm of cyber-security. To be honest, I’m jealous of the opportunity they are getting to be taught by first-class lecturers in a top teaching environment. They will have the very best equipment and a realistic experience, alongside help from some of the best industry partners.

Already, the GCU Ethical Hacking Society – run by students for students – are taking advantage of their new equipment with the support of Proact and LogRhythm, their peers and lecturers. They will be holding CTF (Capture the Flag) competitions within the new space and will learn about spotting and escalating genuine attack activity.

Only a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to talk to the society about their ambitions and their route into the industry. The passion that the students have for cyber-security is clear and their knowledge of in-depth technical subjects is truly humbling.

I was impressed that with so little industry experience, many of them were able to slip into conversations about managed SIEM, Vulnerability Assessments and Anti-Phishing with ease. With many of our Glasgow based SOC team coming from GCU and other Scottish universities, we can see the benefit of having close links with the higher education institutions.

I am very proud to have been a GCU student and a member of our incredible Proact Security Team.


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