Me and my job

How do you describe your job to average people?
I run a team which brings together business, government and academia to find collaborative ways to deal with cybersecurity threats. Ultimately, we help an increasingly digital population go about their everyday lives safely and with confidence.

What do you think needs more attention from the industry?
Greater education and awareness of cybersecurity issues. As a society, we are very good at developing increasingly sophisticated technology to deal with these problems. However, we are not so good at ensuring everyone knows about and practices basic security precautions. I am shocked by how often I still hear about people falling for phishing email requests to supply their passwords.

What security threats are overblown?
I don't think any are overblown – they're all real and with us. It's just many people have difficulty in understanding why they exist, so doubt they do. I would like to see more focus on a cohesive approach to IT security, rather than occasional high-profile stories about a new virus, with no broader lessons about future prevention.

What annoys you?

Seeing people make basic mistakes. I understand people can be victims of sophisticated hacking attacks. I'm less sympathetic when I hear that criminals are walking out of hospital doors with desktops containing private health records.

Of what are you most proud?
My team and the chance to work with known professionals in my field. All the work the cybersecurity program achieves under QinetiQ's leadership is a source of pride. Disseminating vital information to those without the time or resources to find it themselves is always rewarding -- whether that be informing the man on the street about minimizing security risks or letting a promising technology start-up know about a funding opportunity. All these actions help improve civilian security.

What would you use a magic IT security wand for?
I'd create an easy-to-use, failsafe method of ID authentication. If we could do that, and get people to use it, we could address many ongoing IT threats.

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