CYBERUK 2019: Our highlights

by Richard Yorke

We look forward to being a part of CYBERUK each year, and the community at CYBERUK2019 was collaborative and as enthusiastic as ever! The NCSC’s flagship event featured packed workshops and lightning talks, including speakers from Deep3®. Here are our stand-out moments from an event that addresses the biggest challenges, ideas and innovative thinking for the future of our industry.

It’s an exciting time for us all in the cyber tech industry. As Jeremy Fleming, Director of GCHQ neatly summed it up at the event: "Technology is ever more central to our lives and the UK's economic prosperity." A simple statement that kicked off the CYBERUK event, but one that expresses how important it is that we not only make tech safe and secure, but educate young people for its exciting future.

Patching is still the most effective countermeasure

Our favourite panel discussion was the Five Eyes panel, with one part of a wide and varied discussion revolving around the age-old subject of patching. As Scott Jones emphasised, patching is still remarkably effective and the thing that can have the greatest impact in terms of protecting systems against cyber attacks – while acknowledging that it isn't very sexy and can be difficult to do in complex operational environments. At Deep3, we design and build systems that are inherently easier to patch and, as a consequence, inherently more secure. Scott said while we wait for the invention of “a cyber laser that can shoot malicious packets out of the sky” we need to do the simple things that are known to work, something we are very much on board with.

Addressing the skills gap

The Five Eyes panel also discussed the cyber skills gap. To tackle this challenge they suggested a diversity of thought, opinion and perspective is key. It’s not just about technology, which moves too fast to provide a solution, but education.

Preparing children and young adults for the challenges of tomorrow is something they emphasised, and we embrace wholeheartedly. Richard Yorke discussed this serious challenge during the event – he said preparing young minds is key to tackling the nationwide skills shortage and diversity issues.

This is why we are so heavily engaged with the NCSC Cyber Schools Hubs programme. We can't possibly predict what the specific challenges of the future will be, but we can equip children with a better understanding of the fundamentals of technology and computing, whilst nurturing  their ability to think creatively – in order to solve any challenges they will face.

Our own Adam Esberger spoke on this very subject during his session at the event, discussing his work with local school kids on our Python/Minecraft lesson. Adam revelled in the opportunity, saying: “It’s a great pleasure and lots of fun to teach this to a new generation of potential developers.”

Kevin Brown, MD for Security at BT, gave a great keynote speech. He summed up the topic of cyber skills nicely with this statement: “Demand for cyber professionals is far outstripping supply… the industry must come together as a community of like-minded companies to alter the risk versus reward ratio that is currently skewed in favour of cyber criminals, by making it harder for them to exploit vulnerabilities.”

This resonated deeply with us. As we embrace more tech into our lives, our motivating mission is to make the technology of tomorrow inherently safe and secure.

Overcoming challenges

Jeremy Fleming and Ciaran Martin discussed the key cyber security challenges for the next decade in their plenary-talk on day one. They said fixing and securing the UK's Critical National Infrastructure with security-by-design and built-in resilience in the 2020s will be of the upmost importance – something we feel very strongly about at Deep3®.

Meanwhile, it was great to hear that the NCSC Active Cyber Defence work is having a real impact on a national scale. The global percentage of phishing sites hosted in the UK is down from 5.4% to less than 2%, a note of optimism for the future of cyber security.

Overall, the two days served to reaffirm our purpose in an ever-changing industry, as well as offering us new insights and food for thought. It confirmed to us the importance of educating the younger generation, nurturing their creativity and continuing our work to close the tech skills gap. But it also gave us a new drive for the challenges we’re all working to solve together as a community, including security and resilience, in the lead up to the next decade of cyber security – and beyond.

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