Transitioning into Cyber Space

Remote work used to be something only the CEO got to do, usually male with teenage kids, while the rest of us towed the line, praying the childminders collected the kids from school, watching the clock in case you missed that critical last train.

Oh, how we used to dream about what it would be like to work from home and have the flexibility that would enable us to complete our tasks without pressures such as time, when a dusting of snow brought a standstill to trains, or when the bus, which is always late, decides on this occasion, to come three minutes early, leaving you open-mouthed in the cold wind wondering how you will get home on time.

Perhaps you were the guy or girl who got to have several cigarette breaks as you stood chatting to chums on the doorstep, leaving the rest of us to freeze our noodles off as we sit waiting patiently, feeling nauseas at the cloud of grey smoke entering the room.

Or perhaps you were the one who brought in left their tuna sandwiches in a rucksack by the radiator, oblivious to colleagues who were gradually turning a pale shade of green. Or were you the one with the ferocious laugh that irritated the hell out of anyone who was unfortunate enough to have to sit within 20 meters of the kitchen.  

Perhaps it was just me, but in those days, cybersecurity was the last thing on my mind. I was more concerned about work deadlines, or, as a single female, who I would have liked to hump or thump, than being phished, spoofed or whaled. Those words would have prompted an afternoon of Maldives holiday daydreaming, a place I may never visit.

Those were the days when ‘transitions’ were mentioned mainly in terms of digital implementations, or perhaps, end of career as some shuffled off the face of the planet, given a hoe and tended to their tulips. ‘Change management’ were the buzz words and usually involved someone in a suit running around the office with a paper and pen spouting a load of nonsense involving the Greek alphabet. ‘Change’, ‘change’, ‘change’ they yelled! But why? I’m quite comfortable where I am thanks. My boss even got me a new chair. I wasn’t moving anywhere.

Now we sit at home and can laugh at the ridiculousness at how much time and money was spent on stuff that, let’s face it, really didn’t matter. Wasted board meeting after board meeting deciding how to distribute lunch vouchers, whether the logo should be a dark grey or a light black, whether to let employees leave their coats on their chairs or leave early on a Friday.

We knew about cybersecurity, but it was something other people had to worry about in another department, in another building. We felt safe as it wasn’t our PC anyway, and if I screwed up, cost the company tons of money and subsequently lost this job, I could always get another one.

Now, as we sit at our desks, we face a stark reality wherein the only way to survive is to accept the unknown, to take comfort in the familiarity of our surroundings, even though the reality of our world has been turned upside down and inside out, spiraling us into a crippling black hole of fear. The equipment that sits before us has become, not only our bread and butter, but our lifeline. For many of us whose jobs rely on the interconnected world of shared data, without it, we would struggle to survive: and yet, it is also our biggest threat.

There was no smooth transition, no project plan. We have been catapulted into a strange and foreign world without an army or even weapons. Cyber space is our new reality and the only way to survive is to create the instruments that will defend us, learn how to use them and create an army of defense.

The transition from work to home working has, in itself, created a plethora of challenges, both in terms of cyber and information security, but also in terms of our wellbeing, maintaining work-life balance and a healthy state of mind, conducive to productivity and positive behavior.

Give yourself a break; this transition is one you will never forget and use it to learn how to defend yourself, your colleagues and your family, in a new environment. At least until you close your eyes, click your heels together three times and say 'There's no place like home'.

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