One of the most interesting things that I have found working on CyberNorth is the people that I meet. When I first started trying to develop a cyber security cluster for the region, it was at the request of Accenture, through Dynamo North East and, though I had had a long career in IT, cyber security was not my forte. Sometimes I wonder what is.
I expected to get involved with local businesses, academics and the public sector but soon realised that I would need to have some involvement with local, regional and central government. Of course the more people I met, the more there were to meet and so it goes on.
There is a well worn cliche about people who work in cyber security. They are white young men, in hoodies, who tap away at their computers in the dead of night, secreted in their bedroom that has somehow morphed into a small data centre. At least I assume that they are white as it is difficult to tell with their hoods hiding their faces.
Yes, there are a few of them about. There are also introverts (who fit another stereotype of the IT crowd, the single bloke who can’t relate to women) yet there are also extroverts as well. There are people of all ethnicities, genders and, I presume religions, though this is something I have never asked. As yet the sector is not as diverse as it should be. It is still predominantly white and male but change is happening.
The old cliches are not helping though. If the image of blokes in hoodies continues to be used then it is blokes in hoodies who are going to see cyber security as a career choice. Greater diversity will in time, lead to greater diversity. This will be good for the sector as it needs, like all sectors to represent its client base.
I have now become involved in the UK Cyber Security Clusters group, soon to be rebranded with a much snapier title, which has led me to meet professionals from all corners of the UK. Relationships with regional and national government have also blossomed but these things take time. Recently though, I have started to engage with people from further afield, Poland, the Ukraine and The United States for example. There are so many interesting people yet to meet.
Of course, being connected online is an enormous help, which just goes to show why we need to remain secure.