The student society helping put Edinburgh Napier on the world map

Society has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2015

Date posted

11 March 2019


An Edinburgh Napier society is helping put the Univeristy on the world map as it continues to go from strength to strength despite only being in its infancy.

Formed in early 2015, the Edinburgh Napier University Security Society (ENUSEC) has quickly grown into a thriving community of cyber security students from across the University who come together on a weekly basis for events, meet-ups, talks and more.

From Capture The Flag, to guest talks, industry and conference visits, movie nights and more, the society has grown from a standing to start to more than 90 signed up members in just over three years.

The society was the brainchild of Charley Celice an Edinburgh Napier student, and Rich Macfarlane, a lecturer in Cyber security and Course Leader for MSc Advanced Security and Forensics, who came up with the idea in 2014 after attending local infosec meetups.

In 2015, ENUSEC’s first committee was formed, with fellow students Alexandre Arbelet, Siva Nambivelu and Peter Aaby joining President Charley with a view to creating a community for students to engage and support each other, alongside promoting engagement with the growing external cyber sector in Edinburgh and beyond.

Since 2015, the society has continued to grow each year.

From organising its own annual conference and competition – Le Tour Du Hack – which has seen cyber security students and industry professionals attend the two day security extravaganza for the last two years, to tapping into Edinburgh’s burgeoning tech, finance and start-up industries to form relationships with a number of the city’s hottest companies, ENUSEC has rapidly grown into one of the most important cyber security groups in the country.

Not just content with making a name for itself in Edinburgh and Scotland alone, the society has also been active across the world, with members attending leading conferences and events in Lisbon, Las Vegas and most major cities in between.

Most recently, the society has linked up with Edinburgh Science Festival to provide members to help with cyber teaching projects in Dubai and the UAE.

In the beginning...

Rich Macfarlane explains: “We had no idea if it would be popular, how long it would last, or if it would be at all useful. The aim of the society was not only to encourage students with an interest in cyber security and help with technical skills. The community ethos, which the society was based on, was intended to bring together undergrad and postgrad students from across the years of the various courses to support each other, as well as to interact with the growing wider infosec community.

“I'm amazed at efforts by all the students who have been involved over the years and how far we have come, with some amazing large scale events, strong integration with industry, the current variety of weekly ENUSEC activities, working with other cyber societies, and competing in events all over the UK. However, more than anything, the social and community aspects involving students and alumni is inspirational.”

Founding member Charley Celice added: “Having founded the Society in 2015, I am ecstatic to see how it has grown since then. From about a dozen passionate students, I often look back with emotion and see how far it has come with the help and energy of so many. I trust it will live long and have high hopes in its current committee to keep getting involved with the local community and external organisations in order to help bridge the cybersecurity gaps in Scotland.”

The society’s presidency was passed to Peter Aaby who led the society for two years, expanding the reach to run even more large-scale CTF events, and trips to international conferences and competitions.

Its links with industry...

Peter said: “Personally, being part of the society has opened so many doors for me. I initially came to study here for a Bachelor’s degree, but I have since graduated with a first class honours and started my PhD. The society was a big part of this. It gave me a social environment that extends lectures – the notion of being part of something that I felt really proud to be involved with was a major bonus.

“Many people have been offered jobs or work through their involvement with ENUSEC. We have very good relationships with companies like Quorum Cyber, PWC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Edinburgh Napier spinout Zonefox, Satisnet and Sophos. We’ve also been lucky enough to work with Check Point, Lloyds Banking Group, Secarma and FanDuel. Being involved with ENUSEC can act as a bridge between students and industry.

“Looking back, I’m extremely proud to see what it has achieved over the last three years. It does so much for our members – it compliments their learning, it helps develop public speaking skills and friendships and it helps knock down barriers.”

With Peter’s PhD now taking priority, the reins of ENUSEC were recently passed to its new president Jamie O’Hare.

Jamie – who is currently studying the National Cyber Security Centre’s accredited Masters in Advanced Security and Digital Forensics – will be ably assisted by vice-president Charlie Hosier, secretary Euan McFadzean, social events officer Daniel Nash, technical officer Scott Bean, treasurer Marc McIntosh.

It may be a new team, but the aims and goals of the society remains the same - and Jamie believes that being in Edinburgh is the perfect place – and it is the perfect time – to study cyber.

The future of ENUSEC...

He said: “This is my second year in ENUSEC and I’m delighted to have taken on the presidency. The society has a fantastic reputation within the country and I’m looking forward to playing my part in maintaining and enhancing this in the coming months.

“We’re lucky at Edinburgh Napier in that our lecturers – Bill Buchanan and Rich Macfarlane – are amazing at getting you on the right path and the society compliments what they are teaching us perfectly. When this is coupled with the fact that Edinburgh as a city is the perfect place to study cyber, it helps the society act as a great avenue for students to step up the next level and get noticed by companies that are really leading the way when it comes to cyber. We regularly work with companies such as Fan Duel in things like bug bounties and games testing so if you put a lot in, there’s a lot to gain.

“We’re also unique in that we have really great relationships with a number of other cyber societies such as those at Abertay and Edinburgh University. We enjoy being at the heart of the cyber scene here in Scotland and if we can help play a part in persuading people to come to Edinburgh and Scotland to study cyber, even better.”

Study Computing at Edinburgh Napier...