The Accidental Hero

It may have been accidental, however a 22-year-old from South West England intervened to put the brake on ransomeware WannaCry which spread rapidly across 100 countries. At a cost of just under $11.00, the unsuspecting hero managed to halt the ransomeware outbreak which had brought many NHS trusts and major companies across the globe to a standstill.

Further details are here:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/13/accidental-hero-finds-kill-switch-to-stop-spread-of-ransomware-cyber-attack

How the mighty figures in Cyber Security must envy the achievement of this guy. I am sure this will not be his only ’10 minutes of fame’ as the researcher is sure to become a household name for his miraculous work. He warns however that it will return, the question many of us ask is – will anyone else out there in the Cyber Industry have a clue how to stop it and be the first to get there? Even accidentally will do please. There is little to be gained by holding another seminar where the issues are tabled, discussed, examined and then put back in the box without a drive for a solution.

The evergreen question whether there will ever be a complete prevention model to Cyber fraud has raised its profile again. Or will the world continue to survive on cures? Similarities to economists trying to predict financial landscapes are clear to see. Almost daily one can gather a continuous stream of advice and comments. Or listen to announcements of new strategies and investments planned to discover the golden solutions. Alas it’s such an evolving world in the growth of information and data, one wonders if it is really ever going to be possible. IBM claim that 90% of the worlds information has been created in the last two years – so at this pace, it will be like trying to outrun Usain Bolt over 100 metres.

In the main sectors we operate in, Marine, Oil & Gas and Health, a shortfall is always apparent. The ICT facility operates as a separate entity and rarely is involved with the ‘real day-to-day work’ as we would term it. To put it another way, there is little engagement by them with the actual operations and when there is, it tends to be following a request for support or help when systems do not perform or a file hast been lost or misplaced. Historically, this is similar to the approach towards the way QA and QC was handled pre ISO 9001 years ago. Due to a number of incidents, this approach had to change and significant improvements were realised. Regularly it was proven that improved performance by all would be achieved if engineers were educated in QA/QC rather than the normal route which was the other way around. We firmly believe this would enhance the operations, image and outputs of the field of Cyber Security. I challenge that it is fundamental that without knowing what procedures and processes are, then how can you seriously attempt to develop a system that fits? We are not knocking other professionals just querying how they can possibly find solutions without the full knowledge of operations. Everyone needs to work together as one combined unit in our respective industries to gain optimum traction and solutions.

Putting it simply, this is similar to obtaining a cook book, buying all the recipe ingredients only to find that when you do get to the kitchen you have no idea how to turn on the appliances; not least use them effectively. All you have is a picture of the finished dish.

As I stated previously, change usually arrives after an unplanned incident. The merits and depth of the change increase proportionally with the sharing of knowledge, best practice and continuous improvement. However, all change at every level will be restricted by the fear of losing commercial advantage and superiority. Unless this attitude and culture is changed, I suspect we will continue to firefight cyber crime until it is too late for any change.

Perhaps I am being naive here but could we not start something together and start chipping away at this problem? It takes time to track down and profile the cyber criminals during which another attack may have been planned and developed. So, if we don’t start we will never finish.

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