CYBERUK 2021: The power of diversity of skills, technology and thought in securing society
In their opening plenary session at CYBERUK 2021 this morning, our CEO, Adam Palser, and Global CTO, Ollie Whitehouse, discussed the UK’s opportunity to gain a competitive edge after the pandemic by embracing the diversity of skills, technology and thought.
Here’s a summary of the session, with the three key pillars of diversity they highlight as being essential to the future of our cyber industry.
1. Diversity of thought
From accelerated digital transformation to increased remote working, COVID-19 has presented new challenges to the cyber security industry, and the way in which we’ve approached cyber in the last 20 years will ‘not be sufficient’ for the next 20. Instead, we will need new approaches to meet the challenges ahead, sourced through wide-ranging thought from a diverse set of individuals.
We have very few first principles, so adopting an evidence and science-based approach will be a ‘defining moment’ for our industry when meeting new challenges. We cannot ignore individuals from outside a particular socio-economic or educational background but should embrace creativity and those with new and unexpected solutions to our challenges.
Finally, organisations must enable opportunity for people to challenge established norms to define how we will build new and resilient infrastructures in the future.
2. Diversity of skills
There is an ongoing ‘war for talent’ in the cyber security world and the competitive landscape for talent has changed.
With this threat comes opportunity, with the recognition that being agile, embracing inclusion and making organisations a place where everybody feels welcome will enable us to insource talent from a new set of diverse pools. These pools include those that had previously been underserved, such as those returning to work after a career break, those changing career or living in different locations to where businesses are based.
Harnessing the skills that these individuals can bring to the industry will be essential in helping us to continue to make the world safer and more secure.
3. Diversity of technology
The technology that we use on the front line against threat actors is crucial to the UK’s cyber resilience, and there is a risk in depending on a small number of suppliers in any part of our technology landscape.
Looking at the National Cyber Security Centre’s reporting on Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR RF), the SVR had immense capability when exploiting common software, but its impact on the UK had been minimised because of the diversity of our technology and supplier base.
Going forward, this diversity will be imperative for two reasons: firstly, the UK has deep expertise in building great technology and exporting it. By driving the need for diversity and enabling customers to benefit from it without having to go through one or two cumbersome suppliers could provide a clear economic edge for the UK.
Secondly, having good competition allows the free market to do what it does best by rewarding the performance of the product, rather than being beholden to one or two companies. Ultimately, this will improve our resilience as the most effective products rise to the top. However, we must hold organisations to account when designing and building these technologies in a resilient fashion rather than being tempted to build them for the lowest price point.
By fulfilling this duty to build security in from the start, we can create a ‘massive economic advantage’ for the UK’s products and services.
Building resilience through diversity
The conversations are changing, and what people, customers, and shareholders expect from the organisations they join, buy from, and invest in is changing too. Organisations across the globe are being challenged and asked about their Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) commitments more than ever before and we will not succeed without fully embracing diversity and inclusion as part of those goals.
If ‘Global Britain’ is agile, embraces difference and is committed to drawing talent from a range of sources, we have the opportunity to be a world-beating success in the future.
Watch the full opening plenary here.