Returning to work in uncertain times

Business Insights

ALLOWLIST The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has placed us into uncertain times

For the first time in a generation we are seeing entire industries decimated, people furloughed, people being made redundant and people out of work. There is a feeling of uncertainty throughout the country. For a few they can return work; but in what capacity and to what extent?

In cyber security and data protection we are seeing people out of work at levels that have hitherto been unseen. The market is now awash with good quality cyber security professionals. Companies looking to cut costs naively turn their eye to cyber security budgets and slash them. The times of working in offices, for the time being at least, are behind us. The new norms of remote working are taking hold and we adapt accordingly. Being lucky enough to have started my education pre-internet, I have seen a lot of changes over the years and this is one of a long line of what are likely to be more technological enhancements in the years to come. So, we find ourselves in situation where the way we work has changed and the resources that support our security are lacking.

I have been a cyber security professional for over 20 years; I have practiced, built, run, and sold a cyber security company. I have worked for some of the world’s largest companies and have been lucky enough to have done this globally. If I were to advise anyone in these uncertain times on cyber security, this would be my advice.

For companies

I would identify what is important to your company and protect that. With limited resources and budgets, you cannot do everything. It is time to focus on what is most important to you and invest in protecting that. It could be your customer data, your intellectual property, your code. Whatever it is, protect that. Triage.

For individuals

As an individual you won’t go far wrong if you use your common sense; if something feels wrong, it probably is. You are a good judge. You have been on your company security training, you read the news. Perform common sense practical actions. Any new situation will see people out there that will seek to exploit it; they will send you emails, texts, and calls with links that want to steal your identity or your money. Some of them are pretty convincing, but your commons sense tells you your bank wouldn’t ask for your password, you haven’t won the lottery and you don’t have a long lost uncle in some far off part of the world. Don’t click it.

If I were to offer practical guidance it would be to keep your devices up to date with updates and install a good antivirus. These two are your base-line defence. Companies release regular updates to software and the devices you use to tackle known problems and address the ways your security can be compromised. Keep them up-to-date and you won’t go far wrong. As for antivirus, this is cyber security school day one, lesson one. Have it installed and operating. No antivirus can guarantee to catch everything, but it is pretty darn close. You wouldn’t go swimming without your swimming costume.

My approach to these unprecedented times was to seek opportunity in adversity. From an idea born in furlough to a company with global presence in 4 months, we tackled the question of ‘where do people go when they need help with cyber security?’. Surprisingly, no marketplace existed, so we created one; a free-to-use resource for those seeking cyber security help. we created the worlds’ first cyber security preferred supplier list so people can find trusted suppliers and solutions to whatever cyber security challenges they have. We know it isn’t at the top of most people’s agendas right now, but when the time is right, and people need help we have given them somewhere they can go.

Whatever challenges lie ahead of you, the best line of defence for protecting what you value is you.