Insights from Liam McQuade, Cybersecurity Recruiter: When cyber attacks become reality 

The importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated. As an ex-IT professional turned Cybersecurity recruiter, I have witnessed the critical role that strong cybersecurity practices play when it comes to protecting an organisations information. Having been part of a company that suffered a Global Cyber Attack, I can testify to the chaos that ensues and the crucial lessons learned. In this blog, I’ll share my experience and insights into dealing with a Cyber-attack, including the unexpected reliance on unconventional tools, finding emergency IT assistance, and maintaining information sensitivity and speed in the face of adversity.

The day of the cyber attack

Imagine this: it’s a typical day in the realm of incident management. You notice something that’s not quite right, so you raise a ticket on your ITSM toolset. After a short while, you start noticing this anomaly cropping up more frequently across the entire business. It dawns on you that this isn’t just a minor incident. So, following the best practices of a well-managed business that adheres to ITIL principles, you escalate it to a major incident and initiate the standard protocols.

However, things take an unexpected turn when your internal security teams reveal that it’s not just a run-of-the-mill major incident. The situation starts to veer into unfamiliar territory. And then, out of the blue, you hear the senior leadership team instructing everyone to disconnect all equipment from the network. That’s when it hits you – this is a cyber attack, not to be taken lightly. I won’t delve into the details of what unfolded next; I’m sure you can imagine the gravity of the situation.

Embracing Unconventional Tools

When your usual communication channels are severed in the midst of a cyber attack, you quickly learn to adapt. In our case, we found ourselves relying on tools we never thought would be part of our corporate landscape. WhatsApp became our lifeline, allowing us to communicate with colleagues and clients. Post-it notes, which had almost become relics, made a triumphant comeback as impromptu task trackers and our travel budget went through the roof!

This experience underscored the importance of having backup communication methods in place. While digital platforms are essential, having analogue alternatives can prove invaluable during times of crisis. You may think these shouldn’t be needed, but these can in fact be a lifesaver.

Seeking Emergency IT Assistance

The urgent need for IT assistance became evident as we grappled with the extent of the cyber attack. Identifying the breach, restoring systems, and ensuring data integrity required a level of expertise beyond our internal capabilities. This is where the significance of having access to emergency IT assistance became crystal clear.

As a cybersecurity recruiter, I understand the critical need for swift action in such situations. Collaborating with experts who specialize in responding to cyber emergencies can make all the difference in minimizing damage and restoring normalcy.

Balancing Information Sensitivity and Speed

During a cyber-attack, every decision becomes a delicate balancing act. On one hand, transparency with clients and stakeholders is essential to maintain trust. On the other hand, revealing sensitive details prematurely can make the situation worse and compromise ongoing investigations.

As a recruiter, I’ve learned that effective communication in such scenarios requires a keen understanding of the balance between providing accurate information promptly and protecting sensitive data. It’s about striking a delicate line between transparency and caution.

Hacker steals information using a laptop.

Turning cyber attack experience into expertise

My first-hand experience with a cyber-attack has transformed my approach as a cybersecurity recruiter. I’ve witnessed the impact of robust cybersecurity measures and the dire consequences of not considering all the risks. This experience has not only deepened my understanding of the technical aspects but also highlighted the human side of cybersecurity.

If your organization faces a cyber-attack, remember that you’re not alone. Swift action, strategic communication, and collaboration with experienced IT professionals can help you navigate the storm. As a cybersecurity recruiter, I stand ready to assist, not just in finding the right talent to prevent such incidents but also in connecting you with the right experts when crisis strikes.

My journey from cyber-attack survivor to cybersecurity recruiter has provided me with insights that extend far beyond technical expertise. It’s a reminder that cybersecurity is not just about firewalls and encryption; it’s about preparedness, adaptability, and collaboration. Let’s remember that our ability to weather the storm is not solely dependent on our technology, but on our resilience and our willingness to learn and grow from every challenge collaborating as Humans and friends.

Comments from Liam McQuade, IT recruitment consultant at The Bridge, part of Morson Group

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An article by Ben Taylor

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