I’ve not blogged for over a year, because in that year we moved into our much anticipated new home and four months later I started a new job, so I’ve been a bit busy. The new home hasn’t gone as expected (that’s a whole other website), but in compensation, the new job is amazing. Taking a pay cut to do something I really want to do, for an organisation I really want to support, was definitely the best decision for my quality of life.
Information security has been a part of my work life since 2001, when I found a denial of service vulnerability in Novell BorderManager during a penetration test of my employers network. I’ve learned a lot since 2001, sometimes by making mistakes (like failing to protect an IDS box which ironically led to it being the entry point for Code Red) but mostly from the amazing information security community who are so generous with their knowledge and ideas.
In 2013 I was lucky enough to lead the Clinical School Computing Service at the University of Cambridge where we built a Secure Data Hosting Service for sensitive personal data, which we eventually had certified to ISO/IEC 27001:2013. Developing the Information Security Management System and working on the people, process and technology controls convinced me to switch career and move into a full time information security role. At University of Plymouth I was employed initially as Enterprise Security Architect and then Head of IT Customer Services and Security, and that was my platform for the role I now fill as Strategic Lead for Information Security at a leading UK environmental NGO.
I’ve enjoyed most of the jobs I’ve done over the last 20 years, but I’ve never felt this level of commitment and satisfaction before. I assume this is because none of the places I’ve worked before have had a mission so close to my heart. I live with my family in a solar powered electric motor canal boat, harvesting rainwater and composting our toilet waste, so clearly the environment matters to me. To be able to work in an organisation dedicated to restoring nature and biodiversity is something I’d do for free (but I’d starve so wages are good).
I’ve been in the role over a year now, I’m happy with what I’ve achieved with the help of great colleagues, and now I’m working on extending my reach across the organisation. Whilst there’s been times I’ve struggled over the last year, as we cope as a family with a stressful dispute with our boat builder, I’ve been very lucky each day to do something I care so much about.