Back of the net(work)! What can we learn about network security from England's hero goalkeeper Jordan Pickford?
11 July 2018
The nation is at fever pitch. Celebrations are leaking onto the streets. Wherever you go, you can guarantee somebody will tell you “it’s coming home”. England is officially football-mad again. It’s the furthest England has progressed in the FIFA World Cup since 1990, so this should come as no surprise to anybody! The entire nation is watching Gareth Southgate’s England squad with an eagle eye, praying they’ll get through to that all-important final for the first time since ’66, when football did indeed last come home.
Throughout the competition, there’s been one player in the England squad who keeps pushing back the opposing force. Jordan Pickford has been our last line of defence time and time again. He's a contender for the tournament's Golden Glove award, an accolade which really shows his tenacity and capability over the last few weeks.
As goalkeeper, it’s Pickford’s job to stop the other team from placing the ball in the net at any cost. He’s the no-nonsense last line of defence who ensures nothing gets through. Any failure on Pickford’s part could mean the end of the dream for England– as little as one goal could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
There are many parallels with the goalkeeper and IT security, and many of the same rules apply when it comes to preventing foul play from impacting your network. Below are some of the key lessons you can learn from Pickford’s performance in Russia:
1. Know your opponent
Following Pickford’s incredible Bacca penalty save in the Colombia penalty shoot-out, he said “I did all my research. I've got power and agility.” Pickford knew Bacca’s approach to penalty taking before he stepped up. This is how he saved the goal that took us through to the quarter final.
Understanding the threats your network face is the first step to ensuring you can defend against them. Just like the beautiful game, cybercrime is always evolving. While threats like ransomware and phishing are still prolific, the range of cyberattacks is increasing, and we’re seeing new threats such as cryptojacking, designer malware and stealthy zero-day attacks. Understanding the threat landscape allows you to consider your approach to security and defend against the inevitable shot.
2. Know your weaknesses
Pickford is known to suffer from discipline issues at times. Despite winning man of the match in the Sweden bout, Pickford punched his knee at a point of frustration and was seen wearing a bandage following the game. There’s no doubt that Southgate is conscious of Pickford’s temper and is doing everything he can to address it before England comes face to face with Croatia.
Understanding the evolving threat landscape allows organisations to be conscious of any gaps they may have in their network security. For many businesses, this gap materialises with employees who aren’t aware of the threats of phishing. Training your employees to “click clever” can stop email-borne phishing and ransomware from being a problem.
3. Be proactive and always learn
Set plays have been the dominating force of this year’s tournament. 30% of all goals have come from corners and free kicks. These are intelligent, heavily-practised situations that pose a real threat for the defending team. Sometimes the best route to goal isn’t direct, and keepers like Pickford need to be prepared and willing to learn from their mistakes.
Cybercrime is evolving as the technology landscape does. New opportunities also pose new threats. There’s no better example here than the IoT and digital transformation. With a range of connected devices requesting connection to the network, make sure your business implements new security policies, procedures and technologies to ensure you remain secure, before it becomes a problem.
4. Keep a clean sheet
Pickford became the youngest goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet at the World Cup when England defeated Sweden 2-0, despite some powerful attempts by the Sweden forwards. This was arguably the best performance by the squad in the competition to date, and this feeling was no doubt strengthened by Pickford’s performance in goal and the integral support of his defenders.
Creating a fully-integrated security infrastructure can help your network keep a clean sheet against possible infiltration. Ensuring you can secure your entire network from endpoint to cloud will make preparing for and responding to threats efficient and effective.
Ultimately, being proactive, understanding your opponent and being aware of your own weaknesses will help you to protect your network against the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. Hopefully Pickford will continue to excel in the final two games of the tournament, or this blog loses its value very quickly…
12/07/18 Edit: Oh dear...