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Key observations and top tips for cyber security transformation

Ant Morse, Head of Digital Solutions at O2, gives observations and tips around overcoming key challenges in cyber security.

As part of our recent Blue Door Expo activities, we held a virtual roundtable discussion on the theme of cyber security transformation. It was a pleasure to participate in this session alongside Greg Day, Vice President and CSO for EMEA at Palo Alto Networks, and other Senior Security Executives, to discuss our experiences, challenges and focuses for the future.

There were some thought-provoking insights shared during this session, and I wanted to highlight some of the takeaways that had the greatest impact for me. These are broken down into the five key observations of what we are currently facing with cyber security transformation, with COVID-19 as an accelerator of this, and also five top tips for overcoming key challenges and embracing new opportunities in the world of cyber security.


Five key observations:

  • Homeworking: Lockdown has shown that homeworking can be done, and we are all finding ourselves in the middle of an effort of moving to a more collaborative and remote or flexible workforce, whilst ensuring the risk profile for the business is kept to a minimum. This means dealing with pressures on business infrastructure, as well the challenges of everyday life, including families and delivery men.
  • Opportunities: Any savvy business is seeing the current world and change as an opportunity to modernise processes, to digitise them faster and to open doors to new markets. From a cyber security perspective, we need to be ready to embrace this, but we are also aware that most cyber security budgets aren’t growing, and there isn’t the necessary growth in people skills. There is an opportunity to re-balance the spend, saving on property and putting more into IT security infrastructure and expertise.
  • Priority projects & technologies: We’re seeing a lot of acceleration, with rapidly reduced time periods for projects such as the move to the cloud. We are also seeing a conflict between CIOs that are trying to push more technology faster, but are trying to avoid native capabilities and vendor locking. For the first time, in the last year we are hearing people say that integration is more important than capabilities. An example where security is starting to succeed post-lockdown is the SASE market.
  • Data, visibility & control: With the need to scale and accelerate workloads to the cloud, there is a shift towards more data-centric security control. There is also a fear of losing visibility and formal control of data once it leaves the boundary of the organisation, and a clear need to ensure consistent governance across all locations, and the right controls as we go through different layers.
  • People: “You don’t need to break the door down, you just need someone to open it.” Cyber attacks are evolving and capitalising on the current situation, and the vast majority require human activation to be successful, highlighting the importance and relevance of securing, educating and empowering the workforce, whether office-based, remote or hybrid.


Top 5 tips:

  1. Visibility and responsibility: Make sure you have visibility of all your different cloud points, the interaction between them, and how to deliver consistent governance of security across them. Understand your cloud posture management and be clear on where the responsibilities sit.
  2. Balance and consolidation: Find the right balance between managing legacy platforms and adapting to new platforms. In order to embrace all these new capabilities and wrap security processes and controls around them, we need to know how to consolidate all of this together, understand the integration points, and get both the technology and the people processes right. We can’t assume that previous controls will work in this new space.
  3. Employee education: Consider the education and process review side of things, as well as the traditional technology side. Employee training is essential. The new working world allows for much more flexibility and we need to understand how we leverage our skills in the smartest way, and how we empower our people to recognise and respond correctly to ever-increasing threats.
  4. Segmentation: Recognise that connections and controls are getting more complex, and look at segmentation to help simplify and manage this, grouping things into core business things, ancillary business things, and the other things that have nothing to do with the business, but we need to ensure they don’t create risk.
  5. Know the end goal: Don’t think just about the next step, but also the end goal. The move to the cloud, for example, is an iterative process. It is essential to build something that will scale and grow as you go through that evolutionary cycle.


These highlights are only the start of the conversation. Myself and the security team at O2 Business would be delighted to discuss any of this further. Please do get in touch if you would like to know more


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