"I’d heard that Staffordshire University was one of the best universities in the country for computing and this is what I’d always wanted to study."
Hannah Sharp, Hedgehog Security.
When Hannah Sharp followed her passion for computing at Staffordshire University, little did she know her experiences would put her on the frontline of the fight against cyber crime.
"I’d heard that Staffordshire University was one of the best universities in the country for computing and this is what I’d always wanted to study," said Hannah, "I was first accepted to do computer networks, but the day after I arrived I started talking to another student who on the Digital Forensics course and it sounded fascinating. Luckily, I was able to change the course."
One of the attractions of the course for Hannah was the practical experience she gained where she could put her abilities of extracting and investigation of information from digital devices to the test.
Hannah, 23, from London, said: "In a nutshell, if the police seize a computer from a suspected criminal, they’d pass it to someone like me to search through it and find evidence of crimes. So in tutorials, we’d have practical exercises where we were given seized hard drives to look at, or mobile phones that we had to examine."
For her final year project, Hannah focussed her attention on Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMO’s) such as World of Warcraft, which are been targeted by online predators as a tool to groom young and vulnerable people.
"The project focussed on the ways in which activity from these games can be gathered and used as evidence within a forensic investigation," added Hannah.
Her project, which claimed third prize at the annual student showcase event GradEX, also caught the eye of her new employers, Hedgehog Security.
Hannah, who is now employed to find and fix vulnerabilities in online security systems in her role as an Ethical Hacker, said: “The University did a lot for me in terms of putting students in touch with potential employers. The CEO of the company I now work for was invited to judge at GradEX. I’ll be trained up for six months and then i’ll be going out to companies that hire us to break into their systems, identify vulnerabilities and patch them up."
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