Cyber security in focus as business breakfast

Education, buy-in at board level and cultural change. If the alarming cyber attacks of the past year should have taught us anything about securing our personal and business data, then these should be at the top of the list, according to the industry experts at The Herald Cyber Security business breakfast, held in association with international law firm CMS yesterday.

The event, at CMS’s offices in Glasgow’s West Regent Street, attracted some 60 delegates from organisations that included Scottish Water, NVT Group, Morgan Stanley and Diageo – all with a significant stake in the security of their data and acutely aware of the new compliance responsibilities demanded after the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was enacted last month.

Gordon Stevenson, digital transformation director at The Herald’s parent company, Newsquest, chaired an event that started with keynote speeches from Alan Nelson, a partner at CMS and Matt Little, chief technology officer at Zonefox, followed by a lively discussion session joined by John Gibson of insurance giant AIG, Iain Johnson of Newsquest, Laura Thorburn of Carlyle Associates and Lorraine Mills of Blue Rock.

Alan Nelson stressed the urgency of having an effecting crisis management plan in place. “If you suffer a breach you only have 72 hours to respond,” he said. “Investing in crisis management now will pay dividends later.”

While Matt Little pointed out that the threat was not always the sophisticated international hacktivist: “Often it’s the result of Timmy from accounts taking his work laptop home and syncing it with the cloud.”

Several delegates left determined to sharpen their password practices – Lorraine Mills alarmingly revealed that 65 per cent to 85% of passwords can be cracked by a professional within four days. “And unsecured public wi-fi in airports, buses and trains are emphatically not suitable for any business use,” she added.

Most importantly, the session concluded, information technology security policies cannot be imposed on a workforce. “Everyone must be educated so they are able to understand and proactively implement these measures. And when senior management realises that this is fundamentally a commercial, not just an IT issue, that culture change can start at the top,” said Mr Little.