Meet Craig

Recent graduate Craig shares his experience studying MSc Advance Security & Digital Forensics via distance learning


Craig Hattersley on a hill

“Before applying for the course, I had been working on a variety of projects, mainly in National Security and Government areas”

Prior to, and during the course, I was working at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence as a Software Development Team Leader. At that stage I had been working in industry for twelve years working on a variety of projects mainly in the National Security and Government areas but with a small stint on a commercial project managing the delivery of EE’s web shopfront.

“I was intrigued by the building interest in cyber security and wanted to push my career to the next level”

As an accomplished software developer, I was intrigued how to push my career to the next level. Given the building interest in Cyber Security, due to the significant rise of malicious incidents and cybercrime, I felt that myself and my team were not fully equipped to cope. By studying for a postgraduate level in my desired subject I felt it would equip me with the breadth of knowledge that I sought to help me play a small part in solving such a complex and global challenge. As well as the knowledge, I knew the practical research skills I would gain would further improve my capacity for adopting new technology and techniques.

“Two things attracted me to the course, first the GCHQ accreditation and second was being able to study while I worked with the distance learning study mode”

There were two key reasons that attracted me to this course. Firstly, being a distance learning course, it allowed me to continue to work in the job that I loved and meant I could apply my new knowledge directly in real world projects. Secondly knowing that the course was accredited by GCHQ showed how highly relevant and comprehensive the course material was.

“The networking module really pushed me, but it was my biggest highlight”

The most challenging module, and my poorest grade, was ironically the biggest highlight for me. The networking module really pushed me into exploring the lower levels of the OSI model, elements that we all use every-day but are often the least understood.

“The course was incredibly understanding when I had to rearrange a practical assessment around my wedding”

A challenge that I faced was getting married! Not a challenge in itself, but it did coincide with an unsupervised practical. The course was incredibly understanding and allowed this to be rearranged. They were nearly as understanding as my new wife who only raised half an eyebrow as I completed some coursework on honeymoon. She was intrigued as the coursework involved forensic analysis on a hard-drive and USB drive, I think I found most of the cat memes!

“I’m a keen runner as it helps me stay grounded”Craig Hattersley with his daughter

Although not taking part in University activities due to distance learning, I’m a keen runner, which helps me keep grounded. Highlights include run 69 miles across the country (Hadrian’s Wall), running three marathons on consecutive days in Lands’ End and completing an Ironman having only ever attempted a triathlon.
As the course finished my daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, a mutation on the CASK gene. Raising money to send her to a therapy specially tailored for her condition in Virginia, US, saw myself and my best man run 75km in the Welsh mountains covering a height gain of 2km!

“Completing the course enabled me to take my career to places that wouldn’t have been possible prior to my studies”

Completing the course enabled me to take my career to places that wouldn’t have been possible prior to my studies, to the point where I am now the Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of an exciting B2B SaaS Cyber start-up. Given my newfound skills I was recommended to head the development of a new Cyber product within BAE Systems. This product helps organisations triage security alerts from multiple network and security devices by correlating items together, enriching with additional data and prioritising results.
To give the product the best chance of succeeding, BAE Systems decided to spin the product out as a standalone and independent business in its own right. We went out to the Venture Capitalist world and managed to secure £2M of funding from top-tier investors to help take the product, SOC.OS, and overall business, to the next level.
The product has come a huge way in two years and boasts some amazing customers such as the UK Atomic Energy Authority and The University of Sussex. 
This has been a hugely exciting time for myself and the staff that have joined us forming the new company! We are hoping to grow our customer numbers and really tackle a growing problem in the IT industry where IT staff are so overwhelmed by the number of alerts they receive, they are unable to identify and mitigate against the real incidents.

“Even though remote, you still felt connected to the university and staff”

Being an IT professional, I assumed that I was well rounded in most areas. The course forced me to upskill in areas that programmers might shy away from. The breadth of skills and challenges I feel really made me into a much more rounded engineer.
The distance delivery of the course was essential with me being able to complete the course. The delivery mechanism showed that the staff were well practiced with delivering a course in this way. Even though remote, you still felt connected to the university and staff through the effective use of collaborative online tools and processes available.

“My advice would be to make time for learning!”

Make time, the course was difficult and stretched me. Many of my mornings were spent commuting to London whilst watching lectures on a tablet, but looking back, it was totally worth it and truly has the potential to take your career to the next level!