Narrowboat Nightmares and Cyber-security

I’ve lived on a narrow-boat for about 6 months and I’ve learnt that it shares many similarities with my job in IT security. As peculiar as that sounds, it’s true – let me explain… For example, my boat is at constant risk of attack from the environment it exists in, which if not monitored will decay the hull. And if I don’t stay on top of the many breaches it will sink, and I will lose my home and everything I’ve worked so hard to attain. The risks range from my engine or sill breaking, to a hole appearing in my hull if I fail to update the sacrificial anodes to protect it. Although the risks in narrow boating differ hugely from the risks in cyber-security, they both require constant vigilance and updating of each system to stop the infrastructure from sinking. If I don’t remain aware of the new technologies, I miss out on new innovations that could and will save me money, time and effort.

There is one major risk that, like many others, I never truly accounted for: human error. You can stay on top of everything but something can still slip through the cracks (quite literally). Recently, my girlfriend fell between two boats and into the canal! It showed me how a random accident can turn into a tragedy in an instant. She was soaked, hurt and a little embarrassed, getting caught between the two boats.

In the cyber-security world, simple human error, such as opening or responding to an email and clicking an innocent looking link, can also lead to disaster, with companies being constantly targeted and reputations damaged.

Ryan Short's narrowboat on the canal.

In the case of my girlfriend, I got there just in time, but I always worry that if I hadn’t it could have been a lot worse. For many companies a small accident by an employee can quickly grow to become a large public incident without the right systems and process’s in place to prevent this. Thousands are subject to fraud and phishing attacks every day in the hope that they’ll be caught out by human error.

I’ve now bought a gang plank to fix the gap that my girlfriend fell into, to physically stop human error from occurring again. But what measures do you have in place to stop human error in your organisations and the catastrophic effects it can result in?

I would advise you to investigate a technology called DMARC, not only will it protect you and your brand, but also your customers and business partners from email-based attacks. By stopping cyber-criminals, you will reduce risks and more people will trust you and will buy from you. Look to the innovative security providers like Agari, who put out the gang plank and stop fraudulent emails from reaching your customers, and Menlo web isolation that help by not allowing dodgy scripts to run in the first place. These solutions stop your customers and staff from falling in, just because they’re visiting your environment; or in my case being unlucky enough to date me.


Written by: Ryan Short Internal Junior Account Managed at Armadillo.