Face Value by Stuart J Wilkes, Editor Of Cyber Insights for the National Cyber Skills Centre

Back in 1970, in a time when cyber security only existed within the realms of science fiction, Joni Mitchell wrote and recorded a song called ‘Big Yellow Taxi’. The line in the song that has always resonated with me is “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”

At a recent event I hosted, aimed at raising awareness of cyber risks to small businesses and what they can start to do to protect themselves questions were raised: “Where do I start? What can I do as a business to really take cyber security seriously?”

The presenter who had these questions posed to them calmly replied with a single word, “Value. Determine what electronic assets you have within your company that has true value”. How? Well, just keep in mind that line from Joni Mitchell. It’s a surprisingly fitting way of truly determining value. What would you miss if it was gone? Whatever the answer is, then that is what needs protecting from the cyber criminals.

Is it:

  • Your eMails?
  • Your Business and financial records?
  • Your Customer Lists?
  • Your Pricing?
  • Your Supplier relationships?

Consider what effect there would be to the ongoing operation of your business if this data was permanently lost, or if a third party manipulated it. Also consider how long, in man-hours it has taken you to create this data. Imagine if you had to recreate it from scratch, all of those man-hours of labour has a direct cost. Do a few ‘back of the envelope’ calculations and you may be shocked into the costs you would incur to recreate your data.

Value is important, it can be quantifiable, it can be intangible, it may be in places that you had never really considered, but by identifying where the value is in your data you can start the development of a comprehensive cyber strategy that protects it accordingly.

As for Joni Mitchell, maybe if she was writing her song today the lyrics would go something like “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, or stolen over the internet by a cyber criminal”. But then that’s not quite so catchy is it?


Read more about the courses available at the National Cyber Skills Centre by visiting www.cyberskillscentre.com/courses