Cisco announced Stuart Perkins from the Vodafone Cyber Prevent team as the winner of the Cisco Cyber Security Defender Award 2024 in the EMEA region.
Stuart was honoured for his expertise, commitment, and accomplishments in the field of cybersecurity. In particular, the judges highlighted his contributions to securing systems, protecting data, and combating cyber threats while driving innovation, leadership, and excellence in cybersecurity practices.
On Stuart’s outstanding achievement, Emma Smith, Vodafone Cyber Security, Technology & Strategy Director said, “Vodafone's commitment to secure connectivity and building trust with our customers and partners is unwavering. Stuart’s leadership and dedication epitomises our mission of enabling a safe digital society. Congratulations to Stuart and his team on this well-deserved recognition."
Journey from RAF Engineering to cybersecurity
A London university graduate, Stuart embarked on his career as an Engineering Officer in the Royal Air Force. He transitioned into the private sector and specialised in managing diverse technologies and technical teams for a number of years before he went into cybersecurity.
The move was triggered by providing secure services to government clients and it led him to a pivotal role as the operations lead for Cyber Prevent at Vodafone.
In his role at Vodafone, Stuart oversees the protection of applications, services, and customer data, both in the cloud and on-premises. Leading a team of over 100 people, including graduates and apprentices, he takes immense pride in the work of his team.
Safeguarding Vodafone’s customers
Stuart's dedication to cybersecurity is evident through his role's focus on securing Vodafone infrastructure and delivering value to enterprise customers. His passion is rooted in a background of developing secure solutions that monitor the security status of all network devices, primarily focusing on Cisco devices, ensuring they are robust as they get deployed.
One of Stuart's significant achievements includes prioritising security over availability in the Intrusion Detection and Prevention System (IDPS) estate without a significant impact on service availability, a challenging capability that sets Vodafone apart in the industry.
Collaborating with Cisco
Stuart's collaboration with Cisco has been instrumental in enhancing Vodafone's cybersecurity capabilities. The partnership has resulted in ground-breaking work, mapping alerts onto the MITRE ATT&CK framework, providing valuable insights into the objectives of cyber attackers.
"The mapping that we have undertaken has required extensive work to automate how the data is matched against the intelligence provides a useful output. Both teams have provided key inputs and constantly push to improve the deliverables," explained Stuart of the collaboration.
Empowering the next generation of cybersecurity defenders
This recognition extends beyond Stuart as he emphasises the significance of the team's collective effort.
"It feels brilliant to be recognised by Cisco in this way, and it is great recognition for the team. It is particularly pleasing to be able to recognise the great work that the graduates and apprentices have been able to contribute to the project; without them, this would not have been possible," Stuart added.
In an industry constantly evolving to combat cyber threats, Stuart's team stands out for its curiosity and commitment. Stuart's advice for aspiring cybersecurity professionals echoes his journey: " 'Go for it,' there are so many different aspects to cyber."
Looking ahead, Stuart envisions the future of cybersecurity intertwined with Artificial Intelligence. "One of the most interesting aspects will be how Artificial Intelligence impacts Cyber. It’s a new area, and there is much to be done."
Stuart's story is not just a personal triumph but a celebration of the collaborative spirit, innovation, and dedication that defines Vodafone's commitment to cybersecurity excellence.
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