The Cyber Security Seminar – Colin Tankard

The Cyber Security Seminar held on 1st March 2016 at our Harlow Enterprise Hub headquarters was a huge success. The presentations were perceptive and the audience engaged. The diverse range of cybersecurity knowledge in the room also made for a great social and educational event. The final speaker at the event was our very own Colin Tankard, director at Digital Pathways and an expert in cybercrime prevention. His presentation on ‘how they hack’ used video clips and detailed infographics to take the audience on a journey through cybersecurity.

Colin’s highly interactive and entertaining talk began with a video that immediately set the tone. It consisted of a collection of clips taken from various films both old and new, all of whom centre on the idea of hacks, security breaches and encryption. In each case, the brevity of the situation whenever one of these words is mentioned is obvious through the music and tone, regardless of the genre. It ends with an office worker putting a sledgehammer through a desktop PC.

Next, Colin outlined how the collection of information has increased over the past millennia, from the bible and Magna Carta to today. In the years between 2003 and 2014, five times the amount of data has been collected compared to the previous 2003 years. That is a lot of information. With a global internet population of 2.4 billion people as well, that information covers a lot of individuals. Colin at this point highlighted the scope of the data shared with a handy infographic. This image proclaimed that Facebook users share 2,460,000 pieces of content every minute. It also showed that Apple users downloaded 48,000 apps at the same time. Other statistics included Pinterest pins, Yelp reviews and Google searches, all with staggeringly high numbers.

One highly contentious area of technology is the Internet of Things, with Colin again highlighting the dangers brilliantly in his presentation. Using a graph, he showed that currently, we have 22.9 billion devices in 2016 that are interconnected in some way. This graph showed that in its current trend, this would soon grow to 50.1 billion in 2020. Another video clip was used to give an indication of exactly where the IoT was heading, with examples of fridges, yachts and even toilets as items that are being given the ability to communicate without any thought to security.

At this point, Colin moved on to who commits hacking and why. Monetary gain, political gain and simply fun were given as reasons, each with examples of who each category was likely to include. Next was the ‘how’, with phishing, malware and ‘the man in the middle’ emphasised.

Phishing was a major threat, with 1,580,000 phishing emails estimated to be sent out every day. Within his presentation, Colin included ways that these emails could be handled, giving example emails and showing what to look out for. This included a generic greeting like ‘dear customer’, an unofficial email address from the sender and a link that leads to a location different to what is stated. The way to check for this is to hover over the link and see the address that comes up.

Colin ended the presentation with a look at what precautions businesses and individuals could take to reduce the risks of a hack. The use of logs was highlighted as especially important, regularly checking records to quickly point out suspicious activity. The encryption of data was also a hot point. Only by making sure that your data is unreadable can you truly protect it, something that Colin regularly recommends to clients. Lastly was education. As had been highlighted in some other talks, the Insider Threat takes a big proportion of the blame for attacks. Lack of knowledge from employees can often lead to leaked information, so education is critical to keeping secure.

As well as Colin, other speakers at the event included Essex Police Crime Commissioner, Nick Alston CBE who was the keynote speaker, Caroline Garrow from SEIB Cyber Insurance, who looked at the importance of robust cyber insurance, Donell Henry of Barclays Bank, with a talk on cyber fraud and Michael Tye from Infinigate, who tackled the Insider Threat.