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Imperva

Okay, so I’m seriously buzzing from the Imperva Israeli Press Tour. Inspirational, energetic, dynamic, humbling and creative are just a few of the adjectives that are swirling around my head when I think back to the trip. I have been surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds in the world – most of whom have come out of the 8200, the elite intelligence division of the Israeli army.

If you can imagine a city of wannapreneurs – a place where it feels like everyone has just jumped out of the starting gates and are in the race to get to the finishing line, and whoever gets their first wins the million-dollar prize money – and that’s not fiction, that’s reality!  Look at the cyber-security companies that have come out of Israel – Checkpoint, Imperva, Cyber-Ark, Trusteer, which was sold to IBM, Tufin, plus many have R&D offices in Israel such as Akamai, IBM Security, Raytheon and RSA.

What happens in Israel is what happens when you throw a stone in a pond and it creates a ripple effect, a chain reaction. For many of those privileged and talented enough to have worked at Imperva, they have gone onto start up their own brilliant innovative cyber-security companies, many of which have been backed by the original founders of Imperva, including the true greats Shlomo Kramer and Amichai Shulman, who have both helped to spawn many successful start-ups.

Amichai, who is definitely one of the loveliest and brightest men I know, took the time to take us down Rothschild Boulevard where all the start-up companies hang-out of the most beautiful restored Bauhaus buildings. Each compete to be funkier and more fun than the next and are jammed packed with eager start-ups bursting with yet another brilliant solution that will hopefully solve the latest cyber-security threat.  The start-ups sit side by side the venture capitalists and angel investors – who incubate, nurture, counsel and invest in the new guys on the block.  It’s what Amichai is now doing after his 15 years building Imperva, now one of the most successful companies in data security and DDoS protection.  He has begun to invest in many incredibly innovative and needed solutions, as well as mentoring and lecturing, which seems to be the way it goes in Israel.  The idea of collaboration and helping one another is key to why Israel is so successful in cyber-security – the older, successful generation go on to help and support the younger generation.

There is an eco-system in Israel where businesses believe in supporting each other. I was told that if you have a new product or idea you’ll never be turned away by a company such as a bank, retailer or pharmaceutical company – their doors are always open as they are happy to trial beta products. It is the Israeli way.

These guys also trust each other emphatically and use their network to build their businesses – most of the founders of the start-ups I met had served alongside each other in the elite 8200 intelligence division of the Israeli army for the super brilliant.  Because they’ve trusted and had each other’s backs in the army, they have grown up like brothers, so it’s natural to continue trusting and working with each other, developing products that they see a need for once they leave the Israeli army.  The same goes for some of the other incredible businesses I met from the OFEK division, which is the intelligence division of the Airforce.  Panorays,a company well worth watching, was one that totally impressed me as they perform automated third party security management – a booming and much needed requirement with GDPR looming.

The education system is very much geared towards encouraging kids to go into cyber-security, too.  I met a friend over dinner whose son at 14 had just started a boarding school that specialises in computing and cyber – can you imagine that here in the UK? He is obsessed with computing, coding and hacking, so now he can do it safely and responsibly in the confines of a centre of excellence.  From these sorts of schools of excellence, they all then are conscripted into the military for a minimum of two years, which is where – if they have the aptitude – they are picked for the 8200 intelligence unit.

Ingeniously, this whole system helps sort out any skills shortage problem they may have because they are encouraging the kids from a young age to consider cyber as their career choice.  Interestingly, it’s only after military service do they then go onto University, and even then they have multiple Universities of excellence for cyber-security for undergraduates to choose from such as Ben Gurion University, Be-er Sheba.

During the press tour, we had six journalists from The Times, the New Statesman, SC magazine, Dark Reading, TechTarget and Bloomberg and were privy to a lunchtime discussion about why Israel is a cyber-security hub. We heard from Ofer Schriber, YL Ventures; David Mimran, the CTO of Ben Gurion University, Be-er Sheba; Nir Lempert, CEO of MER Group and a Deputy Commander of the 8200 Unit; Matan Or-El from Panorays and Roi Yarom Head of Policy Planning for the Israeli National Cyber-Security Bureau – here we saw the real professionalism and passion, the inter-relationships and camaraderie.

From this meeting I learnt, too, that the Government has a huge part to play in promoting and nurturing cyber-security in Israel; they have numerous schemes and initiatives to develop this area, plus they send lots of companies of delegations around the world to form partnerships. In fact, another of our clients IRONSCALES were away for part of the week on a funded trip by the Government on a trade mission to Tokyo, where they returned delighted that they had actually closed real business and made some incredible partnerships.  Another very interesting and worthwhile lesson to learn from the Israelis!

Like the rest of us, they do have their fair share of the cyber-skills shortage, but nothing like we see here in the UK or the US. The issue was more that everyone had a burning desire to stay only for a few years at a start-up and then be the founder of the next cyber-security start-up – so the same old retention issue that we’re all so used to seeing on our own turf.

The other remarkable difference about why I think Israeli companies do so well is the fact that everything is so close. Literally, where we spent most of our week, you could walk to every meeting, pop in to the folks next door, meet in one of the many coffee shops or cute, boho chic bars to catch up. Actually, in Israel I’m beginning to think everyone knows everyone else. Each time I mentioned someone they seemed to know them or were happy to make an introduction – everyone seems to be running in the race together – and if you trip up, or need a helping hand they are truly there for each other, to support, mentor and share where they can. I genuinely got the feeling they were in this fight to beat cyber-security threats together.

If you get the chance to visit Israel, then snap it up. It has a buzz about it which I found incredibly infectious and fun to do business there. Plus, where else can you go in December where it’s 80 degrees and you can eat outside in some of the best restaurants and bars in the world?

 

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Over 3 years ago, I had a bonkers idea, (yet another), to create a series of activities for Cyber-Security Month in October, the month that traditionally was labelled cyber-security month but nothing ever happened. So during the summer with just 6 weeks to pull it off, together with the awesome Eskenzi staff, a number of wonderful trusting clients and dynamic CISOs somehow we got 100 companies to stand outside the Tower of London with banners all declaring our commitment to security! There began Security Serious Week which comprised of dozens of free awareness webinars, a conference and in the last couple of years an incredible Awards evening for the real heroes in the security industry.

The Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards this year was not only great fun, but played host to over 100 real heroes who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes for years and years to secure our national infrastructure, kept lorries on the roads, planes in the air and money flowing through the banking system without major disruption. Last year we even crowned Professor Edward Tucker, the Godfather of Security as founder of ISO 27001 alongside many dozens of CISOs proudly collecting their awards, including Steve Wright from John Lewis – who said “I’ve literally never won or been recognised for anything in my life – and this means the world to me – it’s one of my proudest moments of my life”.

The awards really do recognise and reward the people who are the backbone of our industry and shortly we will be going back on the hunt for next year’s unsung heroes. So if you have customers, friends or colleagues who you think should be recognised for an award – let us know! The awards entry takes literally moments and is free to enter and free to attend. Go to www.securityserious.com

Now here comes the part where you can help us! To run the awards we need sponsorship, but not much. For just £3000 you can sponsor an award and you’ll get tons of exposure for your sponsorship.

This is what you will get as part of your sponsorship:

  • Logo on Security Serious Website for a year
  • A webinar which we will host for you during the week on a subject of your choice (as long as it’s not product specific) and you will get all the leads from – on average about 70+
  • Mentions on all the pre-event publicity and press releases
  • Attendance on the night at the Unsung Heroes Awards, with branding on the night
  • Your logo on a canvas at the Awards
  • Your logo on the stage banners
  • Mentions in all mailshots that will be sent out by Eskenzi PR

These are the categories that you can sponsor:

Captain Compliance

This award will go to the person who has mastered legal jargon around compliance – and possibly the challenges of doing so in the Cloud – and has taken bold steps to ensure data protection, working tirelessly to comply with the vast array of regulations that affect their industry sector.

Fraud Fighter You don’t have to tell this person that customer data is some of the most important data held within an organisation.  The Fraud Fighter winner will have implemented a procedure within the organisation to help keep data safe, avert or detect fraud.

Godfather of Security

This award will go to someone who has been around the block and back and contributed greatly to the IT Security industry for more than 25 years.

Cyber-Writer – Sponsored by SE Labs

This award will go to the IT security writer who is completely on the ball and understands cyber security, demonstrating this through thought-provoking, well-written articles and interviews that help educate and inform his/her audience.

Security Avengers Security is not a one man job so this award will recognise the best IT security team and how it averted a security disaster or persevered in the fight to keep the organisations safe from cyber threats.

Best Security Awareness Campaign – GSK

In order to increase education on cyber threats and digital behaviours within the workplace, Security Awareness campaigns are often a vital part of getting the message out. This award will honour the campaign and the individuals who organised the campaign.

Security Leader/Mentor

The winner of this award will be someone in industry who leads a team or mentors individuals, taking the time to show them the ropes and ensure those coming through the ranks are prepared for the future.

Apprentice/Rising Star

Our future cyber welfare depends largely on these rising stars.  Whether in formal education, under employment or doing extraordinary research of their own, the winner of this category will show great promise with his/her technical or practical ability.

Best Educator

This award will go to a professor, lecturer or teacher who leads by example to inspire and motivate the next generation of cyber security professionals.

CISO Supremos

CISOs play an important role in securing all aspects of the business and implementing programmes that increase the security posture of an organisation. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it – these awards will recognise the best in each of the following sectors:

  • Retail
  • Finance CNI
  • Manufacturing
  • Media & Entertainment
  • Telecoms and ISPs
  • Charity

Categories are available on a first come first served basis, so if you would like to sponsor the awards do let us know asap or if you’d like to come up with your own category give us a call or email beth@eskenzipr.com – Tel: +44 (0)207 1832 832.

 

Hacker Tales

A couple of years ago we published an e-book titled ‘The Hacker Tales: Stories of Hacking, Privacy and Deception’. It was hugely successful being picked up by numerous publications, websites and promoted across multiple social media platforms which resulted in it being downloaded 2000 times.  The idea of the e-book is to be a grown-ups bed-time story book, where through short stories you go off to sleep wondering whether the story you’ve just read could really happen, or was it just fiction, with a moral story running through it!

The short stories can be written by anyone, all you need to do is dream up a scary hacking scenario which could possibly be something that could happen today or not in the near too far distance. They need to be entertaining, riveting, concise and enjoyable with a list of helpful hints and tips to the reader – offering IT security best practices to help readers be more security savvy otherwise there could be consequences.

Would you be interested in sponsoring the next Hacker Tales book for £1,000? Half of the money will be a charitable donation as it will go to the Children’s Charity NSPCC –  http://www.nspcc.org.uk  (which is the charity that the IT security community support through the White Hat Events http://whitehatevents.org.)

In return, your logo will appear in the e-book which will be promoted through the www.itsecurityguru.org and distributed to the entire IT Security Guru database, plus be a main resource to download from http://www.securityserious.com. In addition, Eskenzi will be working hard to promote the e-book through our many media friends and associations which we are hoping will reach over 100,000 people, plus we hope as a sponsor you can promote it through your own channels too. We’ll even provide you with your own digital copy that you can share with your customers.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, we’ll be on the lookout for good stories to include so, if you or any of your colleagues feel inspired to write a chapter of around 1000 words, we’d love you to take a read to consider it for inclusion.

Have a read of the book and let me know if:

  1. Make a charity donation to the book by being a sponsor
  2. You’d like to contribute a short story

The book will be also be available for download via the Security Serious website, other media sponsors, and we will self-publish through Amazon.

If you’re interested in getting involved then please contact dulcie@eskenzipr.com or call 0207 1 832 837.

Eskenzi PR will once again be organising the IT security analyst & CISO Forum on 1st and 2nd May 2018 in London – this year we’ve pulled out all the stops to get some really outstanding analysts to fly in from the US, Germany and the UK to meet with just 10 vendors.  Already 5 places have been snapped up, so now we’re on the scout for another 5 leading edge companies who are going to wow the analyst and CISO communities with new innovative technology and strong ambitious plans to grow and show competitive advantage.

This event has been designed to make it incredibly time and cost effective as it combines three events into one:

  1. Meeting a year’s worth of analysts in one day
  2. A CISO roundtable with between 10-15 of the UKs top CISOs
  3. Lead generation opportunity through exhibiting at the CISO debates for over 50 end-users which takes place on the second afternoon of the event.

The Forum has been going for over a decade and is only available to just 10 vendors, of which there are now just 5 places left.

These are the analysts who have so far agreed to attend:

  • IDC – Duncan Brown (UK)
  • Bloor Research – Fran Howarth (EU)
  • Kuppinger Cole + Partner – Martin Kuppinger (EU)
  • Quocirca – Bob Tarzey (UK)
  • Telesperience – Teresa Cottam (UK)
  • Goode International – Alan Goode (UK)
  • ABI Research – Michela Menting (UK)
  • Ovum –Rik Turner (UK)
  • PAC  – Paul Fisher (UK)
  • Securosis – Mike Rothman (US)
  • 451 Group – Scott Crawford (US)
  • Forrester Research – Heidi Shay (US)
  • Aberdeen Group – Derek Brink (US)
  • NSS Labs – Paula Musich (US)
  • David Monahan – EMA (USA)

End-user companies who will attend include:

Santander, National Grid, Network Rail, GlaxoSmithKline, Virgin Media, BP , HMRC, Commerzbank, BBC, BT,  Foreign Commonwealth Office, John Lewis , NFU Mutual,, Betfair, Channel 4, Lloyds, Unilever, Barclays, The Economist, HSBC, Home Office, Cabinet Office, NHS.

If you have new products and have something refreshing and insightful to impart to the analyst community then you should seriously consider attending this event.

The cost of the event is £13,500 which includes the entire 2 day event, including accommodation for 2 nights in Park Lane’s Intercontinental Hotel, which is absolutely gorgeous, plus dinner for 2 nights and breakfast and lunch over the 2 days.  Any additional delegates attend for £1000 plus VAT.

The event will once again take place at No.4 Hamilton Place, Mayfair, London W1J and we hope you will be able to attend.

If you are interested in reserving a place please call Yvonne on +44 (0)207 1832 832 or email yvonne@eskenzipr.com

Security Serious Banner 2017Security Serious Week tackles Cyber Skills Gap through Creativity and Diversity

together professors, scholars, entrepreneurs, researchers, incubators, journalists, practitioners and visionaries to discuss the issues surrounding the cyber skills gap in the UK during a free week-long Security Serious Week Virtual Summit.  With daily news stories of high profile data breaches, it’s clear that security technology alone cannot solve the problem. It takes all manner of people to make the UK a safer place to do business.

 

The totally free, not for profit event will bring participants from UK business five top-quality panel style webinars throughout the week commencing 2nd October to tackle the theme of Security Serious Week 2017, Bridging the Cyber Skills Gap through Diversity and Creativity. The week is supported by industry experts who are offering their time, wisdom and free advice to help UK companies protect as well as educate themselves about how companies can take advantage of UK schemes and programmes to make it a thriving cyber security hub, artificial intelligence and how to think outside the traditional route to a cyber career to get all of the right people in place to avoid becoming the next subject of a major attack.

 

In addition, back by popular demand, Security Serious Week will host the second annual Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards in London on the evening of the 3rd October. The event honours the unsung heroes who work tirelessly to avert disasters from attacks against our critical national infrastructure, defend their networks from the daily onslaught of breaches and highlight the cyber pitfalls to educate everyone. The Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards are made possible with the support of Mimecast, Gigamon, GSK, SE Labs, Canon, Eskenzi PR, Lastline, (ISC)², CREST, Barracuda, Smile on Fridays, 1E, Firemon, It Security Guru, Corero and the Charities Security Forum.

 

We feel very strongly here at Eskenzi that the industry needs to be pro-active and do what we all can to educate other businesses to make the UK a safer place to trade online. Security Serious Week, has been set up as our contribution to European Cyber Security Awareness Month and we’ve made the skills shortage the main focus of the week.  Threats are coming at UK businesses from all angles and there are simply not enough people to defend against them.  What we want to do is shout about how amazing our industry is and bring in new blood by explaining you don’t have to be a techie genius there are many skills that are needed in cyber security, including, communication skills, management, marketing, coding, sales – and you certainly don’t need a degree or conventional qualifications to succeed in our profession.  Hopefully, after Security Serious Week people will think differently about a career in cyber security or even reconsider the way they’ve gone about hiring personnel to help broaden their search.”

 

To sign up for the webinars go to:

https://www.securityserious.com/conference/

 

Unsung Heroes Banner 2017Once again Eskenzi PR will run the Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards in September to celebrate and reward all the great work that’s been done by the people at the coalface in cyber-security. That’s the real people who are daily saving our bacon!  If you know any customers, colleagues or friends who have gone above and beyond the call of duty NOMINATE THEM NOW!  It takes literally 2 minutes and is free to enter, free to attend and damn good fun!  It’s made possible by the kindness of some fantastic companies including Canon, GSK, ISC2, ie, Barracuda, Corero, Firemon, Gigamon, Infosecurity Europe, Lastline, Mimecast, SE Labs, itsecurityguru.org and Smile on Fridays.  These awards are about unearthing new talent and thanking all those incredible IT security professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes doing great work.  Last year over 150 people attended the awards, we all had a real laugh as the awards weren’t stuffy, self-congratulatory or self-serving – just a fantastic networking event in a brewery (it doesn’t get much better than that), with goodie bags for everyone and great big trophies and fun prizes for the winners!  Go on be nice and make someone’s day:)

The categories can be found at https://www.securityserious.com/unsung-heroes-awards/

Thank you for supporting the awards.

124109-Happy-FridaySo Linkedin and social media is a funny one. I’m always cautious what I can and should write, because you never know what people will think – but I am in PR and I always say to my clients that you should blow your own trumpet when you can because no-one else will ever do it for you! I’m not going to blow my own trumpet, but I am going to do it for my staff!

Show PR is notoriously difficult. Clients always expect loads of press and analyst interviews at shows like Infosec, RSA & Black Hat – and yet in reality it’s a very hard task. In fact, it’s near on impossible with over 450 exhibitors at Infosecurity and everyone wanting to talk to the 80 or so press who are there.

Handling expectations is very important, so we always estimate around 5 interviews for an Eskenzi client but, in reality, we got on average around 7 – in fact one of our clients had 16 press briefings!  I think it comes down to the fact that we start reaching out to the press six weeks before the show, BUT only if we genuinely feel our clients have something to say! We will never waste a journalists time, especially when they’re at a show like Infosec as there are so many great keynotes, tech talks and networking events to attend.  So it’s our job to work closely with our clients to make their stories really compelling.

Well my staff worked tirelessly for six weeks, liaising with our clients on new research, great statistics and pulling in relevant senior people just so that the press felt it was worthwhile making the journey to Olympia which, let’s face it, isn’t in the centre of London. So this is why I’m so proud. I’ve tried for about 10 years to get Rory Cellan-Jones (who is the BBC’s technology correspondent) to come down to meet our clients at Infosec, but he’s never been interested!  Well, this year he did! In fact, alongside the BBC came ITV, Radio 4, LBC, The FT, Mail on Sunday, The Times, New Statesman, The Sunday Times, BBC World Radio and of course all our friends from IDC, Infosecurity, SC, Ovum, PAC and ISMG to name but a few.  In total, Eskenzi clients had in excess of 140 press, radio, TV and analyst interviews during Infosec, and the crazy thing is that the BBC, ITV and a handful of other press didn’t actually meet with anyone else but came just to meet our clients – how cool is that! Now you know why I’m feeling proud and happy! 

Rory CL @ Infosec

 Image: Rory Cellan Jones, BBC interview Giovanni Vigna, founder and CTO, Lastline

I also want to add (not just because the sun is shining and it’s Friday), but I love our industry and every time I go to Infosecurity and this was my 22nd I realise what a great industry we work in and what a nice bunch of people work within it!

 

I’m not going to lie it’s been quite a weekend. It all started just before 3pm on Friday when Conor, one of our newest members of staff, noticed a tweet saying the NHS had suffered a major cyber-security attack.  That’s when our Eskenzi rapid response service ended up on steroids!

We sent out a media alert informing the press that we had various cyber-security experts on standby to answer any questions they may have and help explain what was happening.  Our switchboard lit up and every major news organisation was onto us! Reuters, PA, Sky News, BBC WorldService, Talk Radio, Aljazeera, News Week, ITN, The Times, The Telegraph, The Mirror, The Sun – even GQ magazine (now that made me giggle as they’re a trendy men’s lifestyle magazine with lots of buff men with muscles!)

I’m proud to say that our clients who have many of the world’s most experienced and knowledgeable cyber-security experts jumped into action to offer their advice and expertise – together with the Eskenzi team, everyone worked throughout the weekend responding to requests from the press, answering a myriad of searching questions – that clearly the NHS were unavailable to answer.

In fact, it was our clients the press turned to for informed commentary when it would have been better if the NHS had fielded a spokesperson to interview who had insight to offer and intelligence to share – but sadly this didn’t happen! This is why organisations need to have contingency and crisis plans in place that are specifically to respond to a cyber-attack as, sadly, the likelihood is that these occurrences are going to become more and more frequent.  The CISOs or head of Information security in major organisations need to be media trained as these are the guys we want in-front of the camera, on the radio and quoted in the press! We want assurances from the people that know, not ill-informed, ignorant civil servants or ministers who in the NHS’ case hadn’t the faintest idea what they were talking about.

 The corollary of this weekend’s event is really in my mind to celebrate the brilliant men and women in cyber-security who work tirelessly everyday to avert more frequent disasters such as the one we saw this weekend.  When I speak to them regularly, they always inform me of how susceptible we are to legacy systems that are so old they are disasters waiting to happen.  I know that behind the scenes it’s these guys that are stopping disasters happening more frequently.  A bit like the counter-terrorism special unit, who we never hear or see from because they too are regularly gathering intelligence to avert disasters.

We need to attract more people into our industry and fill the skills gap. It’s suddenly become a lot more exciting and events like this, I hope, will make it alluring to students wondering what career to pursue.

Gartner predicts that by 2020 we will have 13.5 billion connected devices, so can you only imagine what will happen when these don’t have security built into them – it doesn’t matter how many fantastic security folks we have working to identify the malware and breaches the manufacturers need to take responsibility for security.

The sterling job that our cyber-security industry display day after day and how a security researcher who goes under the name of MalwareTech together with Darien Huss from Proofpoint who worked through the night to kill WannaCry,  reminds me why we decided to run the Security Serious Unsung Heroes. 

If you know of anyone who should be nominated as a Security Serious Unsung Hero please do nominate them here.

Apart from chasing the story this week, I’m sure we all have some story of how we were personally effected by the effects of the malware. In my case, my mum was cooking dinner for 16 of us and she caught her finger in the blender and had to go to A&E to get it stitched up, but had to wait so long because the effects of WannaCry, she ended up strapping it up herself with the help of my retired GP brother-in-law and a few steristrips.  Saying that my mother, who is a trouper, came back and continued chopping with one hand to finish off dinner.  I helped her chop with one of my spare hands, whilst the other was being used to arrange interviews with the press!!! Oh what fun to be a multitasking PR women.   At the same time my niece who is working as a junior Doctor in orthopaedic trauma ended up having to run around the hospital chasing down the oldest computers as they were the only ones still working to print out patient notes and look at X-rays in the old-fashioned way by holding them up to the light which of course they no longer teach at med school.

So this won’t be the first or the last of these kind of breaches – what next, power stations or water supplies?

RockStarsCybersecurityCircleBadge

working together

So here’s a thing, apparently when you brainstorm most of all the good ideas come out in the first 10 minutes – so DON’T drag it out. If it’s getting boring and everyone is chattering aimlessly forget it – reconvene and do another 10 minutes another day.

I learnt a lot yesterday on my afternoon off at #CASSINNOVATE. It was an innovation and entrepreneurship conference hosted by CASS Business School – now that’s a cool place, in the hottest part of London, just by the Silicon Roundabout in Old Street. I love the vibe there as it’s where all these “youths” call themselves “founders” of “incredible start-ups”. In the coffee break it was quite sweet really – lots of earnest, keen, bearded soles all keen to shake hands and “network”.

Actually, that was the best bit of my afternoon – the session on “leveraging the power of reciprocity” – what the hell does that mean we giggled to ourselves – as my oldest daughter Jazzy and I wondered nervously into the session. Infact, she was the real reason I was there, one of the head lecturers David Gauntlett, who is Professor of Creativity & Design at her University  – Westminster University, and sadly who she’s never actually had a lecture from, invited her to hear him speak at another University – weird that!

Anyway, we gingerly entered this weird sounding lecture on reciprocity and got handed tons of yellow post-it notes – now I am a bit partial to a post-it note so I was really excited as to what was about to happen. Well the gentle and very animated Dr Santi Furnari asked us all to start writing requests such as “anyone know of a creative graduate that has exceptional writing skills” or “I’m looking for an app designer” and “can anyone give a talk on exporting”. These were put on the white board and then the room was asked to offer their help.  Incredibly 3- 4 people could help per request.  Dr Santi said that this is what happens normally, for every request you put out there amongst your network you’ll find that 3- 4 people will be able to help you.

Now that’s pretty AMAZING. It was incredible to watch total strangers offer tangible and real offers of help.  So I think we should all try it – LinkedIn is the perfect networking platform to give it a go.  He said it doesn’t fail, it’s scientifically proved.

It’s all part of the Reciprocity ring and there are Reciprocity events – I’ll have to google them now because I love that idea of my network helping me and me helping my network more when someone needs something. So let’s try his theory – does anyone know a good hotel in Greece this summer?

And more importantly I’m now ready for next afternoon off!

happy-21-birthdayYou know when you think about starting something you don’t really have a game plan in mind – well I didn’t.  It was the 1st September 1995 and I’d just taken a gap year aged 31 with Neil Stinchcombe, my husband and partner in crime.  It wasn’t the “done thing”; we had a mortgage, great jobs, were really at the height of our careers and all our friends were settled down and onto their second child!  Neil swore after travelling he’d never go back into Accountancy, but he did (for the first two years and then saw the light and came and joined me).  I sat at my desk on Monday 1st September and started writing to everyone I knew to see if they needed PR! The first job that came in was a mate on The Sun newspaper who got me going. It’s always a mate that helps out in the beginning, right? I’d worked at News International doing PR and marketing for its new exhibitions division, so it was a natural lead.  My next big break came from a friend who had just starting working at Reed Exhibitions on this really very alien sounding event called Infosecurity Europe – what the hell were IT security, viruses, firewalls, networks, routers? You’ve got to be kidding me!  However, they’d taken on a PR agency to launch it, but they hadn’t the faintest idea how to launch exhibitions – now that was something I’d had lots of practice at!  One thing I knew was how to pull in the crowds, so I convinced the FT to write a whole page on cyber-security frightening facts and hey presto, the rest is history – Eskenzi PR had begun its journey into the unchartered world of IT security. With very few other agencies venturing into that space – little did I know that would be our calling for the next 20 years.

Eskenzi retained Reed Exhibitions for 17 years – not bad considering they were our second client ever.  To be honest, tech was never my calling, you just have to know me to realise that clothes, jewellery and interior design is really where I should have spent my misspent youth, but the people in this industry have been incredible.  It’s a real community of decent, down to earth, genuine people who have been good to Eskenzi PR and we’ve had nothing but fun for the past 21 years.

In that time, we’ve gone from viruses and firewalls – gosh that was a wee bit boring, to fantastic hacks and breaches, state on state sponsored attacks, malware, bug bounties you name, we’ve got our clients talking on it – and hey what do you know – suddenly what we do in the cyber-security industry is exciting. That sure wasn’t predicted or planned!  It was just fluke that we ended up in the most exciting, happening industry far more fun than doing plain old PR promoting the local shop or next big launch of a hand-bag!  How much more fun to be talking about squirmy, dangerous bugs that could spell disaster and eat up your phone!!

It’s all about turning geek speak into real speak and making it clear for everyone to understand and to be honest I think that’s stayed within the Eskenzi DNA – we think national press before thinking techie press!  Not a day goes by when we’re not dreaming up a way to present our clients in a way that will appeal to the masses – we always think first “will this appeal to our friends and our mums and dads?”   Our mantra has always been to turn our clients’ dreams into reality – it seems very corny written down in black and white but it’s true – if you can, why not and to be honest? It’s a simple equation – Happy CMO + Happy Board = Happy Days!

So from 21 years ago when I set up in my dining room, soon to be pregnant with daughter no.1, closely followed by daughter no.2 (which then required husband no.1 to join me to grow said business), we grew out of the dining room, built a loft, grew out of loft no.1, moved to house no.2, built loft no.2, had 17 happy years in loft no.2, until our neighbours had had enough and we had to move out!  This actually was the best move possible, because we’re now in our incredible HQ in North London, just around the corner from house no.2.  For those that have never been here, it’s a converted 2 storey Victorian warehouse which we’ve totally stripped, modernised and put windows everywhere, with huge tall ceilings, lots of colours, art and chandeliers.

Apart from our great offices here in London, we now have a brilliant team in Paris, Munich and San Francisco – that’s a team of 25! Not huge, but perfectly proportioned with just over 20 clients who have stuck with us for an average of 7 years.

We’re also not just about PR as we just can’t help ourselves getting stuck into doing fun things!

So next year we will be arranging our tenth IT security analyst & CISO forum which is 3 events rolled into one, we’ve got the www.itsecurityguru.org which is a news site that captures the top 10 stories of the day and we’re running for the second year Security Serious Week.  Boy that’s coming up fast and furiously with the intention of encouraging people to enter our lovely industry, get security specialists offering their time for free by doing 40 webinars so UK Plc is more security serious and we have the Security Serious Conference taking place on 3rd October at the Department of Culture Media and Sports.  As if that’s not enough, just because we’re suckers for trouble, we’ve also decided to organise the Security Serious Unsung Heroes Awards on 4th October which is all about recognising the people, not the products, who work tirelessly behind the scenes saving our bacon but rarely get rewarded for it!  Tickets for both events can be found at www.securityserious.com or click here.

Looking back over the past 21 years I can say it’s been the best journey ever, making the most incredible friends along the way, enjoying working with some wonderful clients and of course having the smartest team in the world, making it a pleasure to wake up in the morning and come to work.  To all those that are part of the Eskenzi family, we would like to say thank you for being with us on this journey and I hope we can enjoy plenty more happy and successful years to come!