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What we learned at PeepSec 2019 – Part I

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18 June 2019

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Following its inauguration in 2018, PeepSec returned in 2019 to facilitate further discussion on the opportunities and issues born from the interactions between people and technology.

Over five days, 30 experts offered world-leading insights into areas such as security, privacy, ethics and the social impact of technology, all with one simple aim:

To help the security and technology communities make the connections that matter.

In this post, we review the key takeaways from PeepSec 2019 days one and two.

(To access the video recordings of every talk from PeepSec 2019, register here.)

Day one

The Bank of England’s John Scott and Alison Crockford opened PeepSec 2019, discussing the impact of technology on our ever-evolving society. After exploring why our interactions with technology are often imperfect, the pair suggested that senior leaders need to change their attitudes to improve the security of their organisations.

“There’s going to have to be an attitudinal shift among technology senior leadership to make sure that we make it easy for people to do the right thing.” Alison Crockford, Security Communications Manager, Bank of England

Level39’s Ben Brabyn then took to the spotlight to share his take on the interactions between people and technology. In a talk fuelled by Ben’s experience as head of the world’s most connected technology community, Ben talked through how recent technological progress had, in his view, changed the security industry.

Bristol University’s Dr. Emma Williams then discussed how cross-discipline collaboration can change people’s interactions with technology for the better, before KPMG Partner Bia Bedry reviewed what the security industry could learn from both traditional and innovative organisations.

“There is a huge potential for some of the technologies coming forward to change behaviour and society in lots of positive ways.” Dr. Emma Williams, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow in Digital Innovation and Wellbeing, Bristol University

Mo Amin closed day one of PeepSec, exploring the role of people and culture in keeping digital networks secure. In a discussion with CybSafe’s Oz Alashe and Sam Oliver, Mo covered how security teams can gain people’s trust, the importance of metrics and measurement when attempting to change culture and what makes for a good security culture.

Get immediate access to every talk from PeepSec 2019 here.


Day two

The IASME Consortium’s Dr. Emma Philpott MBE was first to take to the PeepSec stage on day two, opening proceedings with a discussion focused on what we should be doing to help those most vulnerable to cyber attacks. In Dr. Emma’s view, people now need to be digitally connected simply to be a part of modern society, and we should therefore be doing more to support those particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Founder of Ladies of London Hacking Society, Eliza May Austin, followed Dr. Emma, discussing the gender imbalance in cyber security and how, by redressing the imbalance, organisations can take great leaps forward.

Dr. Jason Nurse then sat down with CybSafe’s Oz Alashe and Dr. John Blythe to discuss research on the human aspect of cyber security. In a talk littered with original interpretation, Dr. Jason pointed out that cyber criminals are in fact psychologists and that the security industry needs to stop trying to “fix” people if it’s going to advance.

“All cyber-criminals are psychologists.” Dr. Jason Nurse, Associate Professor, University of Kent

Dr. Debra Malpass of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) followed Dr. Jason, sharing some interesting findings from recent SRA security awareness campaigns. Dr. Debra’s talk, which was full of actionable insights for security professionals, covered everything from using data science to improve the interactions between people and technology to the role of randomised controlled trials in evaluating security awareness campaigns.

Liz Banbury brought day two of PeepSec to a close via a discussion with CybSafe’s Oz Alashe and Joe Giddens. Liz’s talk explored some of the opportunities and concerns currently associated with big data, and touched on how big data is changing the way we live.

“Whatever your interests are, you can be sure that technology and big data are the driving forces behind them.” Liz Banbury, Head of Information & Cyber Policy, Standard Chartered Bank

If you didn’t get a chance to attend PeepSec 2019 you can get immediate access to all 30 PeepSec talks by registering for free here.