Tag Archives: technical marketing manager

Cyber security needs to consider both technology and human factors.

Cyber Security – Back to Basics

This week I finished the Open University’s “Introduction to Cyber Security” online course which is available through the FutureLearn platform.

Why, I hear you ask, am I going back to basics to learn about a subject in which I am already pretty well versed?

It is true that I have been exposed to cyber security principles and practice for almost 20 years by virtue of my primary degree in Computer Science, internship and subsequent career in both technical and non-technical roles. Heck I’ve even spent the last three years as Technical Marketing Manager of QUB’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), the UK’s Innovation & Knowledge Centre for Cyber Security, a role which sees me regularly speak to businesses, students and contributing to TV, radio and print media on the subject of technology vulnerabilities, threats and breaches. The role also involves bringing new cyber security technology, the output of much of our ground-breaking research, to market.

Why participate?

I participated in the 8 week long online course for three reasons:

  1. I’m big enough to admit that I don’t know it all – even in my own field of expertise there is always scope to learn new approaches and relearn concepts that I may have forgotten. This course offered me a chance to look at cyber security with fresh eyes.
  2. Working day to day in a research and innovation environment at the very bleeding edge of cyber security technology it is all too easy to forget how the person on the street views my area of expertise. This course allowed me the chance to step back from that edge, think about cyber security from an end user perspective and consider how our research and technology could be applied to solve the simple and mundane as well as grander challenges.
  3. Lastly, I wanted to kick the tyres on it. Prior to this course launching I had been asked by a number of organisations if we at CSIT could deliver similar entry level training. We had already delivered some internally to the wider QUB staff body and the question was whether or not we should package that up and produce an offering to business and community groups. I wanted to assess if the OU course would rule that effort worthless.

Did it pass muster?

In a word – yes.

The course surpassed my expectations to be honest. It wasn’t patronising, while it assumed no prior knowledge it explored more complex aspects of cyber security explaining them in an engaging way.

Those charged with information and cyber security in organisations and the wider world can often be seen as bad guys and girls in their own right. Blocking access to fun stuff on the internet and not allowing the latest whizzy consumer devices onto corporate networks without a satisfactory reason from an end-user stand-point. The first week explored the threat landscape in depth, explaining why cyber security matters to everyone and laid a solid foundation for the remaining seven weeks.

Over the last number of years many of the times I have been invited by the media to provide analysis on cyber security events has been due to password breaches.

It’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about bringing our LIOPA lip biometric technology to market. Week two covers the whole gambit of authentication even going so far as covering salting, hashing as well as multi-factor which is thankfully becoming the norm for most online services.

One area where I disagree with the course is its highlighting of password manager applications as a solution to remembering multiple usernames and passwords. Personally I see them as a significant risk and prime target for cyber criminals. Hack those and you have the master key for an individual’s whole online life.

Weeks 3 and 4 cover Malware and Networking & Communications adequately but it was Week 5’s focus on Cryptography which drew my attention. It’s an area which we at CSIT carry out significant research in areas such as Post-Quantum Cryptography,Physical Uncloneable Functions (PUF)-PKI and Fully Homomorphic Encryption.

The practical application of PGP is taught through the use of Mailvelope, a plug-in for Google’s Chrome browser that uses an implementation of the Open PGP standard. This is welcome but it goes to show that straightforward ways for the man/woman in the street to use PGP to encrypt communications is still a little way off in terms of user experience.

As the family IT go to guy weeks 7 and 8 coverage of what to do when things go wrong and managing risks is welcome. Its also a timely reminder for everyone to fully consider their own vast stores of digital information, prioritising which bits are most important and putting in place a regular backup routine to protect against loss.

Have I changed how I think about my own cyber security after completing this course?

Absolutely. Will I tell you the changes I have implemented as a result? Absolutely not. Why make it easier for the cyber criminals? Individuals and organisations are under constant attack. It is a case of when and not if your cyber security defences will be probed and breached – why make it easy for them.

Wider lessons for going back to basics.

Sometimes subject matter experts can be a little reluctant to admit that they may not be across all the basics in terms of their field. Instead they baffle the uninitiated with the more advanced aspects of their product or service. Looking once again from an amateur’s perspective can be enlightening.

Participating in this course has also opened my eyes to interesting use cases for some of CSIT’s innovations.

While this course may close off opportunities for us as an organisation to deliver similar training ultimately it educates a greater number of people in respect of cyber security who will demand greater security from service providers and technology providers. If it encourages more students to consider applying for our MSc Cyber Security or consider carrying out PhD research with us then even better.

Ultimately this will stimulate further the burgeoning global cyber security market benefiting CSIT and the wider industry in which we operate.

This blog post post was originally published by me on LinkedIn Pulse on 2nd Dec 2014 and can be found here.

The Dock – A poem by David Crozier

I am delighted and honoured that my poem “The dock” was chosen as the winner of the inaugural MATRIX Poetry Competition. I collected the prize on Saturday 5th October 2013 from Poet Laureate Carol Anne Duffy at a reading session she hosted in Derry~Londonderry as as part of Poetry Month and the 2013 City of Culture celebrations.

Collecting the inaugural MATRIX Poetry Competition Prize from Poet Laureate, Carol Anne Duffy and MATRIX Deputy Chair, Dr Norman Apsley
Collecting the inaugural MATRIX Poetry Competition Prize from Poet Laureate, Carol Anne Duffy and MATRIX Deputy Chair, Dr Norman Apsley

The inaugural competition, which was introduced by MATRIX to highlight the links between science and the arts, was to write a poem about any science related topic.

It was open to those people who study the STEM subjects or work in science/technology based industries. It was judged by Professor Iggy McGovern, Professor of Physics at Trinity College Dublin and award winning poet.

MATRIX, the Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel, is a business led expert panel, formed primarily to advise government, industry and academia on the commercial exploitation of R&D and science and technology in Northern Ireland.

My poem drew inspiration from the sounds, history and future of the area around the Thompson Dry Dock which my office overlooks.  It also draws parallels between the heavy engineering that the shipyard area was known for and the future, driven by research and development, carried out at my place of work – the ECIT Institute.

The motivation for writing the poem is simple. MATRIX Chair Bryan Keating asked me to. Sometimes being asked to do something is motivation enough.

My poem:

The dock

The sound of hammering and clanging ringing out from the dock
Regularly drifts in the sea breeze through my window.
This recording a remembrance of ocean liners engineered
In Belfast’s mighty shipyards once spread out below.

Now in this furnace of technology, an Institute of the future,
Researchers secure the digital tomorrow for one and all.
Transportation of a different kind their focus; of data and knowledge.
The brains of this nation answering Queen’s Island call.

For through science our pride will be restored once more,
Technology despatched through new venture creation.
Lessons learned, skills honed, motivation unsinkable
Let’s doff a duncher to this foundry of innovation.

Creative Commons License
“The Dock” by David Crozier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://www.davidcrozier.co.uk/2013/10/07/the-dock/

 

New role at CSIT: The second 30 days in the 30-60-90 plan

Chips with that?

Last month I blogged about the 30/60/90 plan covering the first 30 days of the initial three months in my new Technical Marketing Manager role at The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).  This was based on some interesting guidance posted by Ninon LaForce on the On Product Management blog.

In this post I shall look back at the second 30 days.  Personally speaking its useful for me as I slot into the organisations appraisal system to reflect on what I have achieved thus far in the role.

Day 31-60: Take ownership

According the Ninon, days 31-60 in a new PM role is all about taking ownership. As with my previous post, before getting into the points specified in the original post, here are a few thoughts on this period.

This period began with exhibiting at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  I blogged my thoughts on the Congress here. While this took me out of the office for a whole week it was a useful learning exercise personally and an opportunity to test what we as an organisation are doing in the marketplace.  It certainly helped me achieve some of the points outlined below including networking and building relationships with existing and potential partners and customers.

Uncovering new opportunities for the application of our research as well as helping me get up to speed pretty quickly on the commercial environment in the mobile space was invaluable not to mention the process of developing our messaging around this massive market pretty early into my tenure.

Two weeks after returning from Barcelona we hosted Belfast 2012: The 2nd World Cyber Security Technology Research Summit at CSIT.  Preparations for this were pretty consuming.  Again the process of prepping for and hosting this event were priceless in terms of building relationships, setting our commercial and research roadmap as well as firming up my thoughts around strategic direction.

Scorecard

Now lets look at how I think I performed against the list:

Meet with my manager for a first 30-day review. Ensure I am focusing on the right activities and adjust as necessary.

Partially done.  We meet weekly and continue to chat most days regarding ongoing activities.  We plan to sit down to formally appraise my performance over the first 2 months next week.  It should have happened last week but more important priorities meant this had to be pushed out.

Take ownership of some projects.

Done.  I am currently working on a number of projects which have short and medium term delivery dates.  There are no shortage of projects.

Contribute my thoughts/ideas on how to streamline industry partners and programs.

Done; ongoing.  These get discussed each week as part of our commercial team meeting.

Make a list of activities/project that will contribute to meeting the department objectives and set up a plan to reach the goals.

Partially done. See earlier comments.

Go to lots of meetings and begin to run some of them.

Done.  I already chair a monthly marketing meeting with marketing representatives from the various research clusters feeding into that.  I also attend several organisational weekly meetings.

Continue to build relationships.

Done.  Mobile World Congress and The Cyber Summit were excellent for doing this.  I also continue to meet with colleagues from across CSIT as often as I can to build up a funnel of content for our websites and for raising our profile globally.

Begin to write materials (drafts)

Done.  I am in the process of refreshing our web estate which necessitates writing new and rewriting old contents.  I have also been updating marketing collateral, drafting funding proposals and producing press releases.

Continue to learn and read as much as possible.

Done.  The role is such that I will never stop learning and reading.  It’s par for the course.

By this time I hope to have uncovered some promising unexploited opportunities for growth and have begun to figure out how to exploit them.

Done.  I’ll keep them under my hat for now. ;-)

So I make that seven out of nine achieved and a further two partially achieved.  Not a bad result given the events that took place this month.

Update: I almost forgot to mention that during all this I took time out to guest on The Tech Show, a podcast in eamonmallie.com’s Tech section focused on the technology scene in Northern Ireland presented by Chris Taylor and Matt Johnston.  On the show I talk about cyber-security and an exhibitors perspective of Mobile World Congress.

What is a Technical Marketing Manager?

I started this morning writing a long post about my second 30 days in my new Technical Marketing Manager (TMM) post with The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).  I found myself explaining how a TMM is similar to a Product Manager (PM).  It probably deserves a post of its own.  So here it is.

Some of you might be wondering why I take advice from a product management blog (On Product Management) when my job title is Technical Marketing Manager.  So what does a Technical Marketing Manager do?

In a sentence I see it as taking overall responsibility for marketing the product of a hugely technical organisation; something that is much more than the 4 P’s.

I see my current role as sitting on a spectrum of similar roles spanning from Technical Product Manager, Solution Specialist, Product Manager, through to Analyst, Product Marketing Manager and finally Technical Marketing Manger.  I’m probably a much better communicator than technologist, therefore the marketing aspect just feels like a better fit.

Ultimately all varieties of PM need most or all of the following skills:

  • Just doing it
  • Domain experience
  • Communication skills
  • Decision making ability
  • Environment scanning
  • Business understanding
  • Technical experience
  • Negotiation (both internally and externally)
  • Selling
  • Networking (of the human variety, not 802.x)
The list isn’t exhaustive but I reckon I use all of those every day.

Hat tip to onpm again for the skills list.  I’ve added a few of my own.