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A Word from an Ex-Military Security Specialist

13 June 2019 by Charlotte Greene

Holly Williams

Unlocked speaker Holly Williams

Ex-military cybersecurity specialist Holly Williams has recently been announced as the latest addition to the expert line-up for 2019’s Unlocked event.

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At UKFast, we’re always working hard to help you stay up to speed with the latest in cybersecurity, so we spent some time in conversation with this accomplished security professional.

Who is Holly Williams?

As we mentioned before, Holly Williams is an ex-military security specialist and currently heads up the technical development of cybersecurity firm Secarma.

Holly served for five years as a site security officer with the British armed forces, overseeing the installation, maintenance and decommissioning of secure communications systems, including a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan.

Since leaving the military and completing an MSc in Information Security and Privacy, she has worked in penetration testing for six years. Now, as well as a professional pen tester, she is a regular public speaker and social media commentator, and quickly becoming a recognised figure in a male-dominated industry.

What are the most common threats?

Holly explained that actually there’s no one threat to your business anymore – and that’s the scariest bit.

“It’s the breadth of threats that businesses need to worry about. There’s such a huge range of threats out there and this makes it harder for organisations to be fully informed about all the things that could affect them.

“So it’s not that there’s one single new threat that you need to worry about, but how you can stay aware of the specific threats that may affect your business.

“For example, many businesses are affected by SQL injections every day. A good example of this was TalkTalk’s vulnerability published in 2015. The fact is that the SQL injection class of vulnerabilities was first published in 1998, yet we’re still seeing companies hit by it. This just shows that even when new threats are not being announced, there are plenty of existing threats out there that continue to evolve.”

Why should businesses come to your talk?

“My talk will be based on penetration testing and how I break into buildings. However, the main reason I would say to come to my talk is because my talks are usually funny – you have to make security fun for people somehow. I don’t want to give too much away but there are certainly some basic lessons for businesses to learn. It’s amazing how many businesses miss the basics that could help them avoid an attack.”

Why should we attend Unlocked?

“Most businesses only think about security once a year when they have an audit. But this means it’s difficult for them to keep up to date with the latest threats and how they can protect themselves. Because I’m a penetration tester and I do security every day, I (and the other speakers) can get you up to date quickly on the most important things you need to be aware of.”

Interestingly, Holly pointed out that the networking element of these events is also a really important but often overlooked reason to attend.

“Events like these are so valuable, especially the networking side.

“The reason that I go to these events is to talk to businesses and to see what problems they’re facing. One of the things that usually comes up in discussion is simple things like scamming and emails – the number of scams over email is huge! But if you actually talk to other businesses and see what their problems are, and people like us at Secarma who simulate these scams to test companies, it gives you a deeper understanding of the range of threats out there.”

If you’d like to hear Holly’s in-depth talk on penetration testing and how you can protect your business from a range of threats,  join us at Unlocked Manchester on 17th July or Unlocked London on 24th July.

Tickets are selling fast and, due to high demand, we have just increased capacity for Unlocked London – so it’s not too late to get your free ticket!

We can’t wait to see you there!

And if you need more reasons to attend Unlocked 2019, check out our latest blog: Five reasons you need to attend Unlocked 2019.

Join us at Unlocked on 17th July and 24th July in Manchester and London!

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