On July the 10th aql, one of the UK’s most innovative telecoms operators, welcomed the new generation of budding cyber security experts to their historic Salem Chapel HQ. They shared their time, stage, and contacts within the industry to support the CyberFirst cohort - helping enable the cyberists of the future to succeed.

CyberFirst is a pivotal part of the UK government’s National Cyber Security Programme. It covers a broad range of activities; a comprehensive bursary scheme, a girls only competition and development courses at UK universities and colleges. Each aspect of the programme is designed to give talented young people the support, skills, experience and exposure they need to become cyberists of the future. aql’s CEO, Adam Beaumont is a strong advocate of the importance and relevance of cyber security, himself being a Professor of Cyber Security and also the Chair of the regions Cyber Information Sharing Partnership, operated in conjunction with the National Cyber Security Centre.

aql group services are the communications engine for some of the largest global brands - providing messaging, voice, data centre, high speed connectivity and also mobile data for the expanding internet of things (IoT) space. Securely connecting people, organisations and things to make society better and smarter. As technology enhances more and more of our daily life both aql and CyberFirst recognise the importance of both protecting and connecting people.

As cyber security roles are constantly evolving and changing the cohort enabled the team at aql to share their knowledge and insight from over twenty years experience within the industry - engaging with the future cyberists through a day of talks and Q & A sessions, covering subjects from fundamental internet engineering “how the internet actually works”, through to the security and protection of data and networks, along with defence in depth, secure by design principles, GDPR along with practical advice and examples.

Mark Amory, Cyber Curriculum Lead, ACO:
"The event was excellent and fit the requirements of the CyberFirst Academy perfectly. The venue was fantastic and to have talks from different aspects of "the Internet" was just what we wanted, from aql, the perspective of a data centre, from IX-Leeds, the perspective of an IXP, from IXreach, the perspective of a telecoms carrier and from Infinity Works, the perspective of a dev-ops developer.

"It really brought to life the theory we have covered in the classroom - we will certainly look to a return visit for next years Academy!"

Adam Beaumont, Founder and CEO of aql:
"The fundamental skillset of a cyber security professional is curiosity and logical problem solving. This is driven by a passion for understanding. I’m lucky enough to have shared the birth and growth of the internet with amazing engineers - between us we have literally built considerable chunks of what is known as the internet. For cyberfirst students to have the opportunity to talk to some of these incredibly experienced pioneers, such as Andy Davidson, one of my fellow co-founders of IXLeeds was clearly a highly rewarding experience for the delegates."

"IXLeeds, which was the first, independent, not for profit internet exchange outside of London was made possible by aql building a “carrier neutral” datacentre facility in the heart of the city. This facility allowed every fibre operator a point of interconnect in the North of the UK. These fibre operators brought the data network operators and Internet service providers. This then made it possible for IXLeeds to create the fabric for these networks to overlap and share traffic. This has also brought the platforms to Leeds which serve the content for brands such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and others."

"Further, this Northern point of interconnect has increased the resilience of the UK’s internet infrastructure by providing a major network node in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse which provides an out-of-London route for operators and also connectivity to Europe and the US which isn’t dependent on London based facilities."