Professional Practice: guest speaker number two

[This post is written as an informal part of a university module]


Speaker: Roy Isbell
Area: Digital security

Depending on your point of view, you can probably claim the company you started was successful if it is eventually bought out by a global giant, such as Symantec. Roy certainly had this air of success about him as he told us about the route he'd taken to get where he is today. But he didn't dwell on his life story for the entire hour as we half expected. Instead he gave a thought provoking presentation about digital security issues, from their origins in the days when losing your data was the biggest concern, to modern day crackers, malware and botnets.

He emphasised how much of a profitable growth industry digital security is, from both the point of view of those trying to breach the security, and those trying to prevent the breaches. Roy mentioned that the UK government has recently allocated £8 million to cyber security but a quick search* yielded nothing to back this particular claim up... Instead I found articles from as recently as this afternoon about the £1 billion that will be spent on this issue, as well as quite a few statistics that reinforce everything else Roy had to say about the activity and effectiveness of botnets.

So although I'd heard of most, if not all, of the buzzwords that came out of Roy's presentation, I'd never really thought about them. That's not entirely true. I use free anti-virus software and common sense when I'm browsing. Goodness knows data security was hammered into all the new Google interns on the day they handed over our shiny new MacBooks. But when you log into your Internet banking from your own laptop, what could possibly go wrong? How can this textbook company you've never used before, that you're putting your card details into right now, possibly not be legitimate? Why would a stranger in Russia be interested in logging my keystrokes? It's one of those... It'll never happen to me situations.

I paid attention though, because although I've never really built a web application big (powerful, used, important) enough to warrant anything more than sanitising database entries before, I will be doing this year. So I should probably get wise to this network security stuff.

*A search of thirty seconds or less being all the multi-tasking, attention-deficit 'Internet generation' of today are capable of.

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