Cyber defences on high alert as security market consolidates

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen a sharp rise in state-sponsored cyberattacks, with senior IT professionals being urged to prepare their defences with extra care.

 

In the US, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have, for example, all reported increased targeting of defense contractors by Russian cyber actors, with fears that major corporate institutions are next in line.

 

It is a time for CIOs and CISOs to be extra vigilant and prepared to adopt innovative technologies, commented Kevin Mandia, CEO of security vendor Mandiant which has recently agreed to be acquired by Google Cloud in an all-cash deal valued at $5.4 billion. The current geopolitical climate is likely to see further consolidation in the security space, predicted Mandia, as large companies look to bolster their defenses amid the looming threat of cyberwarfare.

 

 

“Cyber security is a mission, and we believe it’s one of the most important of our generation,” he added. “Google Cloud shares our mission-driven culture to bring security to every organization. Our efforts will help organizations to effectively, efficiently and continuously manage and configure their complex mix of security products.”

 

Mandiant will now become part of Google Cloud Platform, adding its security services to GCP’s existing defenses. Mandiant played a key role in discovering the damaging SolarWinds hack in 2020, believed to have been perpetrated by by a Russian hacker group as part of a concerted assault on US government agencies and companies.

 

Image courtesy of Third Stage.

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Book of the Month*

The Serendipity Mindset: The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck

By Dr Christian Busch
Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

Chance encounters, or strokes of fortune, feature in countless stories of business success. This book looks beneath the surface, reveals and teaches the mindset that can transform pure chance into opportunity. The author is director of the Global Economy Program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, and a lecturer at the London School of Economics.

Serendipity is an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. To other people it looks like “good luck”, but it is more the ability to recognise and seize an opportunity, rather than have good fortune thrust upon one. Finding a wallet stuffed with money on the conference room floor is good luck, whereas holding it up and asking if anyone has lost their wallet might be the beginning of a valuable friendship – that would be serendipity.

The author says “This is a book about the interactions of coincidence, human ambition and imagination”. In the above example: finding the wallet is the coincidence; ambition is the desire to make something of the discovery; add imagination and you open up a whole menu of possibilities: from spending spree to earning a reputation for honesty – or even making a wealthy friend.

Business is typically forged on human ambition and imagination, but early success often feeds an appetite for control – and “control freaks” can be blind to the opportunities thrown up by the unexpected. They only see chance events as distractions. If plans go awry, they may blame the failure on “bad luck” rather than admit their own inflexible attitude.

The author himself admits to being “a German who is used to planning” and prone to feel anxious when something unexpected happens. That makes him an ideal teacher, because he has worked hard to discover and analyse the mindset that enables one to “connect the dots” and cultivate serendipity. He presents a goldmine of examples from science, business and life where an apparent mishap or failure lead to a breakthrough.

Indeed, studies suggest that around 50% of major scientific breakthroughs emerge as the result of accidents or coincidences. A well-known example is Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, launching the whole field of antibiotics. Other examples include X-rays, nylon, microwave ovens, rubber, Velcro, Viagra and Post-it Notes – where would we be without these!

The book goes beyond the ability to recognise and respond to opportunities in chaos, but the subtitle – The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck – is actually a bit misleading. True, he does show ways to develop better fortune, but it would be better to call it “inviting” or “encouraging” good luck. For example, he suggests better ways to start a conversation with a stranger – ways that will make it more likely to lead to chance connections or shared interests.

The publishers may have chosen the word “creating” to make the book appeal to the human desire to control – for control freaks are exactly the readership that would benefit the most from this book’s wisdom and practical advice.

For the rest of us, it offers a great way to rediscover the sense of play that is so important in life – and too often lost in business.

“Following the success of The Serendipity Mindset hardback, a paperback edition has also now been launched under the title “Connect the Dots”.

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