In our latest edition of “Working at ENCS”, we caught up with Ruben Meeuwissen to find out how he’s finding his current role. We always love to hear from the people that make ENCS what it is and hope this delivers a good insight into life at our company.

What do you do at ENCS?

I’m a security tester so I mainly build defence systems and test their robustness against attacks. My work means that I’m heavily involved in the Red Team Blue Team (RTBT) project, which I love because I can give participants the opportunity to get hands-on, cyber-security experience.

My first encounter with the project was actually when I first joined as an intern last August. We were trying to make the most realistic version of an OT [operational technology] network environment for a grid operator so I was given the role of updating each station within the process (i.e. the DMZ servers and RTUs), which I really enjoyed. I went travelling after my internship but ENCS asked me to stay in touch and I became a full-time employee when I came back. Since returning, I now have an even clearer sense of responsibility which has been great for my development.

What is your background and what attracted you to ENCS?

I graduated from Delft University last year with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and ENCS’ RTBT project really stood out to me. Having the chance to create an interactive training programme for the energy industry isn’t something you come across everyday so it definitely caught my eye.

I didn’t know a huge amount about cyber-security before I started but after meeting Michael, his enthusiasm really rubbed off on me. In fact, I actually ended up starting the next day! Since I’ve started working at ENCS, the work has been so engaging that I’ve decided to study a masters in Computer Science which has cyber-security modules. I’ll be starting next September whilst continuing in my current role so I suppose I’ll have the best of both worlds!

What’s your favourite part about working at ENCS?

The time for self-development. That’s really what you need when you’re at an early stage of your career, whether that’s the time to research topics you don’t understand or to ask those key questions. My education helped me understand the core basics such as how a network works, but you realise there’s a big difference between theory and practical application. I didn’t have a cyber-security module in my bachelors, it was something I learnt here and I’m privileged to work alongside experienced colleagues who are very supportive and encouraging.

Have you been working on anything exciting recently?

There are some new updates to the practical side of the training that I’m really keen to share with the participants and we’ve also got some new hardware that’s going to take the simulation to the next level. It’s always rewarding when you get people who are really keen in the training and are already thinking about new ways they can implement it into their current systems. There’s been so much enthusiasm in our last two sessions so I really hope these new updates can help this continue.

What would you say to someone considering a cyber-security career in the energy sector?

For people such as myself who are interested in cyber-security but don’t have any prior professional work experience, just do it. It can seem really complicated at first but try hacking one of your own devices and see what happens. Trial and error is really the best approach. In terms of specialising in the energy sector, it’s one of the most critical parts of our society with a good blend of IT and OT, which is always helpful to learn. Without energy you can’t do anything so I’d definitely recommend it as the sector to work in.