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Bucking the trends in business – Roger Smith

By Suzanne Kiraly - 21 August 2017 0

Not being much of a tech head, but knowing I had to learn a lot more about Cyber Security after I had been hacked, I made the decision to attend a course entitled: “Business Security Intensive”.

This was a half-day course where I would learn about the ‘bad guys’ – what they do and how they do it, and more importantly, about the protection process and something called NIST.

It was a start and, to be truthful, I was expecting to be bamboozled by techno-speak, so much so that I had a contingency plan to leave early if I thought I was out of my depth.

To my delight, the course was pitched at ordinary folk like me. It was extremely comprehensive, and I learnt some very useful information on the day. In fact, I decided to find out more about Roger Smith, the presenter, who has a business providing computer support and security support to SMEs and who also came across as really knowing his stuff!

I would have to say that Roger is not only bucking the trends but when it comes to cybercrime, he’s thwarting them!

The son of a British veterinary virologist, Roger started his life in Vom, a village on a mountainside in Nigeria, where he mingled with international students and generally enjoyed his childhood.

The Nigerian Civil war erupted in 1966, and the family moved to WA, where Roger attended Wesley College. Following school, he joined the Navy, where he remained for 21 years and was initiated into the world of computers (which were mainly mainframes at that time), such as it was in those days.

After he left the Navy, Roger’s first job was with a WA company who installed POS systems for BP and Esso in Malaysia. So, for the next three years, up until the Y2K episode, Roger lived and worked in Malaysia. He tells me, incidentally, that even though the Y2K bug was hyped so much, it did still cause much damage to many companies. And that was about the time he left Malaysia.

After Malaysia, Roger landed in Canberra where he arrived with no car, no house and no job. It was quite a leap of faith for him.

But it was not long before he landed a plum job, working for Asia Online, which he secured in Canberra. They had a “foot in the door” attitude in terms of service delivery, which Roger liked a lot, and he was in charge of said client delivery.

But on 9/11, Asia Online suffered a catastrophe. They were in the midst of fund-raising with a major investor in Cisco, who happened to occupy a large proportion of the South Tower that was attacked and subsequently went down on 9/11. It was the complete opposite of serendipity, and so Roger bit the bullet.

In 2003 he built his first business, which was called Paradigm IT Solutions. He grew that business until 2008 when he on-sold it to a firm called Paradigm Management Group.

In 2011 his current business, RNI, was established and Roger works with his son-in-law, Idden. Roger is in charge of supplying security support to small and medium businesses and Idden provides basic computer support. So, for SMEs, this is a one-stop technology shop – where you have expertise from within the computer environment and extending to prevent the hackers from doing harm from outside of it!

Of course, I couldn’t help but be reminded that last time I looked Google’s motto was “do no harm”, which is extraordinarily cavalier of them, I have always thought. But for all of us in business, it means more than the bad guys just doing harm. Roger says it’s more about survival because any hack can cripple and destroy a business very, very quickly.

A couple of anecdotes he gave on the course would make your hair curl! Roger tutors undergraduates at ADFA and helps with the Army’s Cybersecurity Courses, culminating in a war game.   They play hacking games – with a blue team (the good guys) and a red team (the baddies) and the aim of the game is for the red team to hack into the blue team’s systems. It was alarming how quickly they could do it!

And in a business setting, he talked about the financial crisis an American ‘discreet’ dating company suffered when they were hacked into and all their clients’ personal details were stolen. The company was ordered to compensate each person affected with $37,000 each. They had thousands of clients, so it’s a case of almost not surviving. Can you imagine coping with such an unexpected occurrence in your business? Would you be wiped out?

Of course, the biggest issue that companies have (which Roger has to deal with), is that they are not prepared. They have a “we’ll be right” attitude. He says that just because you have an IT department, doesn’t mean that they are qualified to prepare you for cybercrime. Most are generalists.

And then again, most clients come to him once they have suffered a breach – often when it is too late to prevent them from suffering huge losses, and sometimes even going under.

Cybercrime is a growing trend. Are you prepared for it? Maybe you should get Roger out for an assessment? He knows his subject. He’s written two books on it already and a third is on its way.

What’s Your opinion?


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