The Week In Review 19th February

stuart-wilkesWith the educational establishments spitting out their pupils for a half term break this week cinemas are being packed out to see the latest comic book hero come to life. Cyber it seems has taken a bit of a comic book turn this week.

No more words need to be written about the tragically comic comments coming from the US presidential hopeful Donald Trump, but it does seem at the moment he has yet to make any serious comment, or policy regarding cyber security should he end up residing in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Mr Trump has made an inconceivable commitment to shut down parts of the internet in order to prevent radicalisation, but nothing more. All presidential candidates will openly discuss national security, but as CBS News stated, that although cyber security is among the most ominous and vexing defence issues of the new century the hopefuls have not paid more than a glancing lip service to it. As the smart thinking in the defence industries leans more and more towards technological based conflicts, from drones to cyber attacks on national infrastructure, it does seem that next self styled leader of the free world might need a few basic lessons in cyber security. We have all heard about absurd suggestions to build a wall between the USA and Mexico I’d suggest there should be more talk about firewalls instead!

How often when watching a super hero style comic book movie has the hero of the piece used an incredibly simple tool or technique to bring down their nemesis? The moral is to use simplicity over complexity every time. In many cyber courses people are encouraged to do simple Google searches on themselves, their company, they products and the services. This is not a vanity search, but a simple and highly effective way of seeing what information is openly available to the masses about them. This simple technique was overlooked by the University Of Greenwich this week who suffered the public humiliation of a data breach. It’s humiliating due to the fact that the breach was discovered by one of it’s students who performed a Google search. This search revealed the names, dates of birth, mobile phone numbers, signatures, and addresses of students. Alongside this it also found meeting minutes from the university’s faculty research degrees committee and in several cases, mental health and other medical conditions of students were included in the published documents. Do you think this is a one off? Perhaps just a fluke? I though so too, then I decided to follow this students lead and perform some Google searches of my own – the results shocked me! They may just shock you too.

Google, who have always had a public image that has more than whiff of comic book about them published a fascinating white paper this week on their approach to security in many of its services. Although adorned by its signature primary colours the “Google for Work Security and Compliance Whitepaper” is well worth reading. Not only does this explain how they go to great lengths in order to protect your data, but it’s also a very good example of how having strong cyber security in place can be used for competitive advantage. If even after the scantest reading of this document you feel more secure about using Googles services and the security of your data, then it has done its job. Other companies would be wise to follow this lead and start to reassure customers that doing business with them, in any form, as is safe and secure as they can make it.

Cisco, the networking supremo, has rarely been seen as anything other than a very serious company. Not too many primary colours here. So I was quite taken back this week to see that their latest campaign on raising awareness on cyber security utilised the super hero graphic novel as it’s preferred communications medium. Cisco have a new superhero in the fight against cyber crime. Her name is ’Supersmart’ and she’s here to ensure business leaders take security seriously. Despite my initial misgivings it’s actually a fun read and does work well. Perhaps they will be making a movie out of it in time for the next half term break.

For links to all these stories and more, or to contribute with some comments join us by searching for the National Cyber Skills Centre on our social channels of FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, or just click the relevant links from our website.


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