From Zero to Hero

By Bennett Arron, finalist in the Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards

In 1999, when I became the first major victim of Identity Theft in the UK and lost everything as a result of the crime (don’t be jealous), I didn’t think that, 20 years later I would be nominated for the “Unsung Hero Awards” for my work in Fraud and Cyber Security. There was more chance of my being nominated for the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe. Or an Oscar.

I’m often asked, after my talks, whether the fact I am now making a living as a “Security Comedian”, makes up for what I lost. Well, whilst I am really appreciative of the opportunities I have been given, and whilst speaking at conferences around the UK as well as in Poland, Amsterdam, South Africa, Australia etc have been incredible experiences, becoming penniless and homeless was devastating. And I still suffer the consequences.

I’m also asked how things have changed in the past 20 years. Well, of course there’s the internet, veganism, Netflix, Brexit etc. But let’s keep to the topic. Saying that, it is incredible to think that 20 years ago we didn’t have the World Wide Web as we know it today. No Internet. No emails. No Smartphones. People went to restaurants and cafes and actually talked to each other – admittedly through clouds of cigarette smoke, so pros and cons.

Whilst the Internet has opened the world to us, it has of course brought the increase in online crime. As a speaker on the subject, I do try and keep up with everything that’s happening in this field. However, I sometimes forget that others don’t do this and how vulnerable this leaves them, not just on a personal level but also for the companies for which they work.

I have recently been speaking to staff at various offices around the UK on the subject of online fraud/cyber security/GDPR etc and I’ve been surprised at the general lack of knowledge and understanding about phishing, vishing, smishing etc. I do try to educate, and I’d like to think most of it sinks in, but I’m aware that we all have other things on our minds and that a lot of the time people won’t really show interest until it’s too late. It’s like boiler repairs or car breakdown, most people don’t really think about it until it’s happened to them. And then it’s a big panic and usually a large expense.

Speaking about expense, in my talks I also warn about the cost of data breaches – not only to the companies themselves but also the potential cost to their customers or to anyone whose data they hold. The fact this comes from personal experience seems to put the message across better.  

That’s why I’m very pleased to do what I do. And that’s why I’m so delighted to have been nominated for it in the “Unsung Hero Awards”. I have actually been nominated in 2 categories: “Best Educator” and “Best Security Leader/Mentor” and it really means a lot.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if I win or not, the fact that I have been nominated is enough.

And if you have fallen for that, then you will fall for anything….  

Bennett’s website:

Source: Bennett Arron