Interview with Dr. Jessica Barker

“There is a lot of fear in general surrounding cyber security”

cyber security

Cyber security is more relevant than ever with high-profile data breaches in the news practically every other day. We caught up Dr. Jessica Barker after her keynote speech, “Cyber Security Myths and Monsters: Understanding the Human Nature of Cyber Security”, last month at JAX.

Cyber security is more relevant than ever. It seems like there’s another high profile data breach every other day in the news, from WannaCry breaking the NHS to the hacking of political candidates all over the world. But why have breaches become a part of the new normal?

Last month, we spoke with Dr. Jessica Barker at JAX after her talk on “Cyber Security Myths and Monsters: Understanding the Human Nature of Cyber Security”. In her keynote address, Dr. Barker combined sociological and psychological research with stories from mythology and classic horror fiction to highlight what we need to understand about people to make cyber security less of monster.

As Dr. Jessica Barker points out, there’s a number of complicated reasons why breaches are happening so frequently. The pace of technological changes means that people and businesses have adopted to these new technologies without really thinking about the security aspect.

Or, for that matter, the human aspect. When we trace these high-profile breaches back to their cause, we often find that attackers took advantage of human behavior, via social engineering, poor password management, gaps in physical security or malicious insiders.

“There is a lot of fear in general surrounding cyber security,” Dr. Barker said. It’s hard to point out where the attack is coming from, so the focus often shifts to the victim. Then the questions become, “why did you click on that link?” rather than, “who is behind this malware attack?”.

Dr. Jessica Barker

With a background in sociology and civic design, Jessica specialises in the human side of cyber security. Running her own company, J L Barker Ltd, she is engaged by FTSE100 companies, central government and SMEs across the defence, health, financial and retail sectors to advise organisations how they can keep their information safe while getting the most out of it. Jessica’s consultancy work involves leading and delivering information security audits, from which she develops roadmaps which take organisations on a journey of improved cyber security maturity. Jessica also specialises in learning and development packages which raise cyber security awareness and, using an approach rooted in behavioural economics, change behaviours to address the challenge of cyber security’s biggest weakness: the human element.



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