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  • Writer's pictureShamane

Human Fear VS. Cyber Fear

Updated: May 8, 2018

It’s time to be real and let go of fear. Period. I call it the human fear and cyber fear. 

Have you ever been in a position that as you advance in age and maturity, you realise that you lean towards taking lesser risks? You feel that people are more critical. They will be harsher with your mistakes. There’s just no excuse - that ‘you should have known better’. And that fear grips you. You end up opting for the safe way rather than being bold and taking risks. Well, that’s a human fear. 

I nearly fell into that trap with my new role. My eyes became open to the implications of every word that I post on social media because of a new awareness of the role that I have taken on, and that the impact is a lot bigger than it was before.

It is ironic as well because most people who are Cyber professionals would prefer to remove as much traces of themselves from the internet. In fact, I know of many wary people who have not registered themselves on any applications or systems that record their data and shun away from automatic conveniences and opt for manual inconveniences. Now, that’s a cyber fear. 

This bugged me because as much as I love to share my journeys with the up and coming newbies and holding the hand of the next generation, many a times, our self can be our biggest critics.

We stop ourselves from doing things. We talk ourselves out of things. In my role, I meet many C-execs but also many impressive industry leaders with heavy responsibilities who look after big corporations and thousands of people. Yet, when I asked them if they have thought about speaking at public forums, you will be surprised by some of their answers. Some explained sheepishly they are not ready. Perhaps wait till they have achieve something big. There are many others who are more capable. Or, they are only good in this area but people won’t want to hear that as it is not trending now. Hey, wait a minute. What about the flip side? I have had many others who have not made it yet, but readily says yes and embrace new things and move on from mistakes that they do make. 

What has your biggest voice been saying?

Your inner voice should be cheering you on. Not putting you down and preventing you from stepping out. The thing about fear is that many a times it is make belief. Fear paralyses. More often that not, it is not as bad as you think it is. Fear also stems from caring too much about what people thinks of us, and what about the fear of failure? It is time we change our thinking. We are better than we think we are!

Let’s use the human factor for good. In the world of IT, Internet of Things and Cyber, without realising it, it has become increasingly easy to dehumanise things and lose sight of the human factor. In fact, typically, the human factor can have a negative connotation as it can be the weakest link in cyber security. Today, I am putting a different spin on the human factor, and am writing this down to remind myself. As ABBA, a famous Swedish Pop Group sings, to take a chance! I would rather take a risk by choosing to believe and focus on the goodness and strengths of the human factor, take for instance, collaboration and connection.

So how did that look like? Well 3 weeks ago, my director came up with a really cool idea. At my current company at Privasec, a few of us are incredibly privileged to know the real identity of our top Red Teamers. But it’s not just that. We get to hear the behind the scenes. Their war stories. How they've managed to break in, entered top secret datacentres, get into boardrooms and attain highly classified information even before they were published in white papers. It is fascinating unwrapping their minds to understand how they think and operate. These days, the world of Cyber has evolved and it is no longer just about cyber hacks on web apps or mobile apps. I have been told that they go for the weakest link. Rogue intrusion might be the easiest for a number of companies.

Hence, I decided to organise my very first C-execs luncheon. All because I thought it was cool to do a show for the senior execs where they get to hear a top Red Teamer share his secrets as this shadowy figure behind a white drape. They get to pose questions and see a whole different world being unveiled to them. What a way to spend a Friday lunch!

Now, I did think about the fact what a tall feat it would be to fill 15 seats with high profile people in such a short period of time. Self doubting thoughts gripped me. What if I failed and look stupid? What if the event wasn’t a success, what if the attendees didn’t like it? We can always dwell in the land of the what-ifs and miss out on the what might have been.

I guess eventually I stopped listening to any negative inner voices.

Honestly, you would never know what value you could give to people if you gave up so easily. The last event I did that was focused around C-execs, it took a few months to pull together just 5 of them. This time, I needed to more than double the numbers in less than a month! Yet I wanted the CIOs, COOs, CROs, CISOs, who said yes to my invitation, to get real value added out of it.

I wanted to create a platform where they can meet new people, network, and gain new perspectives. I banked on the human factor, their innate desire to connect and collaborate. Instead of going off the radar in this new world of cyber, it is about having a balance as well. By embracing collaboration, learning, friendship and kindness, we will advance further together than working alone.

Last Friday was my executive luncheon and I was so thankful that it was a success! (You can click on the photo to see the Chief Editor of My Security Media, Chris Cubbage's blurb on the event).

Yes, in the words of my director in the debrief after the luncheon, he asked what did I want to hear first. The good, bad or the ugly? I had to brace myself. We all have our own expectations and standards of what success is. There are varying perceptions and degrees for that. The way I see it, you can’t achieve success without the good, the bad and the ugly. You need them all.

However, it’s about seeing that mistakes are only opportunities to learn, grow, develop and change for the betterment of ourselves. Lessons learnt can aid in better and more well-informed decision making in the future due to past experiences. If we don’t even dare to try, that is when we truely miss out.

At the end of the day, it is always about constant learning, making mistakes and improving. Facing the fact that we will always make mistakes. Why not gain something whilst we are at it?

With that, I would also like to announce that Cyber Risk meetup is now collaborating with My Security Media! Check out my podcast interview with Chris for the big announcement. Watch this space at: for upcoming exciting events!

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