Cyber Threat or Cyber Opportunity?

Madison Square Garden Data BreachNews of the most recent high profile cyber breach, that the concession stands in Madison Square Garden were compromised, has just been released.

But it’s not the fact that they were compromised that’s concerning but that the breach was in place for over a year before they even knew about it. This is a trend we are seeing more often this year.

It started me thinking about how organizations look at cyber security - it’s almost always in a negative way. The fear of the hack, the stigma associated, how will my business recover and most importantly my customer’s information will be widely available on the internet.

Behind all this fear and distress there is a genuine opportunity for businesses to move beyond this “roll the dice” conundrum.

Business owners, CEO’s, CIO’s should be considering how they can be the ‘first in class’ with their cyber security and to make that a selling point, a unique selling proposition, a reason why you should trust them and do business with them.

A business who views Cyber Security as the “Gold Standard” will probably have superior customer service, better products and respect your business a lot more. A business that can demonstrate and validate that their systems are impenetrable, could use this standard/benchmark to win contracts, a real way for their business to differentiate themselves from the competition.

As we enter the most intensive shopping periods of the year, either online or in store the pressure among traders and the anxiety among customers will increase. Almost every time I use my card, I think about whether the retailer has sufficient cyber security measures in place and do they have adequately trained and certified cyber technicians to protect my data?

As I have explained in previous posts, this is as much a people issue as it is technology, so are they promoting good cyber citizenship among their employees?

To achieve this “Gold Standard” is not impossible, but consider the peace of mind and the opportunity for the businesses that implemented and achieved that state of nirvana. They would have, the perfect infrastructure, all technicians trained and certified, proper risk management and governance in place, all staff would be aware of their cyber responsibilities and be good cyber citizens and have superior processes in place when a breach is suspected.

We need to come to terms with the reality of our situation, embrace the perspective the situation provides and re-frame it in our mind.

Out of adversity and challenges, opportunities are abound for those with the right cyber security mindset.

Carpe Diem !

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA



The long term cost of data breaches

Yahoo hacked

I am just back from a whirl wind tour of India, China and Japan and one topic seemed to dominate every conversation - Cyber Security!

If I was to summarise the points that were raised by all of our colleagues. partners and clients in our many conversations:

  • Security breaches are a wake-up call for many organizations
  • Usually they do not update their cyber security infrastructure and keep rolling the dice waiting to be hit
  • Instead of waiting, organizations must initiate a mechanism of threat sharing
  • Cyber threats must be immediately shared so that appropriate security measures can be taken in time
  • The stigma of being attacked must be removed
  • Government must step up and set best practices for cyber security
  • We can’t solve this problem with technology alone
  • Essentially it’s a human problem.
  • Almost all of the attacks we see are a result of human error
  • We all need to become better cyber citizens

When I returned from this exhausting but exhilarating trip I was reading the data from the 11th annual Cost of Data Breach Study (sponsored by IBM), which is recognised as being the industry’s gold-standard benchmark research, independently conducted by Ponemon Institute.

In 2016 alone we have seen breaches with Centene Corporation, the FBI, Seagate, Verizon, the IRS, and LinkedIn to name a few.

This year’s study found that the average consolidated total cost of a data breach grew from $3.8 million to $4 million.

Over a 10-month period, Ponemon Institute researchers interviewed IT, compliance and information security practitioners representing 383 organizations in 12 countries: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, France, Brazil, Japan, Italy, India, the Arabian region (a consolidation of organizations in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia), Canada and for the first time, South Africa.

While the amounts of money mentioned are staggering and could easily wipe out most businesses there is another cost that many people may not take into account.

When a company suffers a data breach besides losing money they will also suffer huge reputational damage - unfortunately when a company is breached customers and stakeholders see this as a big weakness. Was the company careless, were they not operating proper controls, are they to be trusted?

Often people don't blame the hackers (the thieves) for the breach but they will point a big accusing finger at the organization for being so "careless" - it's your fault!!

This long term damage could turn out to be much more detrimental that the initial financial loss.

Based on the feedback from my "tour" it looks like in too many cases the cyber penny has yet to drop! 

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA


Everything is possible with a Growth Mindset

growth mindset

I’m touring Asia at the moment and over the next couple of weeks, the CEO of CompTIA and I are personally meeting with hundreds of business and education leaders and government officials in India, China and Japan.

At CompTIA we are committed to reducing the IT skills gap and increasing the number of Certified IT professionals around the globe.

No matter where I travel, those who are eager to join us in this effort have at least one thing in common: The Growth Mindset.

People with Growth Mindsets understand and believe that our abilities and skills and even intelligence can be improved over time through dedication, discipline and practice"

RESEARCH supports this point of view.

Crucially our MINDSET has everything to do with how we view our ABILITY TO LEARN. It is not just about our skills, but it is how much we BELIEVE we can learn, how much we believe we are adaptable, teachable and stretchable.

Fixed or Growth Mindset? 

It is really worth challenging ourselves to see what mindset do we hold - be honest!

To determine whether you currently have a GROWTH mindset or a FIXED mindset, let’s examine four statements.

As you read them, think about how much you may agree – or disagree with each point. 

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Okay – what did you think??

Questions 1 & 2 are fixed mindsets. 3 & 4 reflect the growth mindset.

Which one did you agree with more? You can be a mixture but most people lean towards one or the other.

You can also have beliefs about core abilities.

So for instance, I could substitute the word “intelligence” with “artistic talent”, "sports ability" or business skill.

In a fixed mindset, for instance, you believe “She’s a natural born singer” or “I’m just no good at dancing.”

In a growth mindset, you believe “Anyone can be good at anything. Skill comes only from practice.”

And it’s not just about ABILITIES

There are FIXED and GROWTH Mindsets around your Personal Qualities too – like PERSONALITIES AND CHARACTER - do you consider these to be innate, an inherent part of who you are from an early age? It is interesting!

Your personality mindset comes into play in situations that involve your personal qualities. For example, how dependable, cooperative, caring, or socially skilled are you? Can this change or is it fixed?

The fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged

The growth mindset makes you concerned with improving.

Think about someone who is steeped in the fixed mindset. Think about how they are always trying to prove themselves, and how they’re super-sensitive about being wrong or making mistakes. Did you ever wonder why they were this way?

Are you this way? Now you can begin to understand why.

Universal language of learning

As I travel throughout Asia, I am noticing how many people from all cultures understand that important qualities can be cultivated. They are investing in IT education and in growing the Growth Mindset, which is the essential first step to maximising your learning.

Once you have a Growth Mindset then everything else is possible - do you have it?

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA




The Value of IT Training and Certification - An International Perspective

Comptia EMEA Conference

At our recent CompTIA EMEA Members and Partners Conference, which was held in London on the 11th and 12th October I was part of a really interesting panel on the topic of "The Value of IT Training and Certification - An International Perspective".

As with all aspects of the conference the panel was quite diverse and it included:

The key outcomes from this discussion were:

We need to attract young talent into the tech workforce

You will have heard me speak and write about this huge issue before - you might check out my recent post about the young man I met on a recent flight!

Basically it seems that kids (that makes me sound very old!) are not interested in a career in IT.

We don’t have enough qualified teachers to teach IT in schools

This is certainly a big issue and in many cases we are seeing that academia is struggling to keep pace with the requirements of the real world. As well as not producing the required numbers of graduates often the courses are outdated and the necessary tech skills lag behind industry.

In some locations industry are working very closely with the local colleges influencing the courses being run and the actual content of these courses. The progressive companies in some cases are providing lecturers for these courses to ensure that graduates are fully up to date - this is also a very clever way of recruiting.

Soft skills for techies is a big requirement

I guess this is nearly a cliche that many highly intelligent and talented people who work in IT can easily get lost in their keyboards and their world of coding and not have the vital soft skills that are needed to work with people and get things done.

It's a fine thing to state it is a problem and it could be a bigger challenge cracking it! We are creating a programme to deal with this very issue.

Continuing Education (CE) is necessary

With the rate of change it is essential that we build continuous education into all of our workplaces and training programmes for techs to make sure that they maintain their knowledge and they always stay current.

While the young entrants in every organisation need to be trained and inducted maybe part of the process is that the mentors can actually learn and stay fresh by working with these new people. We can all learn from each other.

100% Performance based (simulations) exams are the way forward

It looks like the days of learning by rote are no longer sufficient and are clearly numbered. This method of assessing people is very inaccurate so in the future CompTIA will have our core training programmes 100% performance based.

Physical location is a challenge with learning

If we want more graduates and more people to enter our industry then we must make it much easier (and cheaper) for people to take their exams. To achieve this remote proctoring for exams is required and it is up to us to deliver these options.

Mentors are important

While we agree that having mentors from the world of tech for kids will be important this is not a new idea. Mentors have always played a critical role in inspiring people in their career choices and our industry must proactively put mentor programmes in place so we are achieving this.

We need people that young people can look up who can demonstrate to them what a career in IT means and within workplaces mentors that they can shadow.

As always these conferences are a fantastic way to bring thought leaders together to share experiences, discuss issues and brainstorm. For me as always I got a lot from the presentations, from the panel discussions and from the chats over coffee, lunch and yes. at the bar!

Things keep evolving, there is lots to do and all we have to do now is....Just do it!

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA


CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner conference 2016

Every year I look forward to our CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner conference and this year in the UK (11th & 12th October) was bigger and better than ever before. Since my move to the United States, it gave me an opportunity to meet old friends and catch up on all of the gossip!! 

It just seems like yesterday that I did a quick video for YouTube (see below) in preparation for the conference.

The conference is always one of the highlights of our year in the region bringing together over 500 attendees, from a diverse and unique audience across Europe and the Middle East. 

This year’s two-day event gave IT executives, commercial training partners and academic partners, a forum to network and share resources; gain knowledge they can put into action in their businesses upon returning home and benefit from and enjoy sessions customized for their specific market. 

At the event we had some great high-level panel discussions and exceptional networking experiences with key IT influencers. We were also delighted to use the event as an opportunity to educate our partners and members about the current trends in tech and tech education. The rate of change in our industry is phenomenal but yet all of the core basics and philosophy such as best practice will always remain the same.

All segments are presented by leading industry subject matter experts so it is no surprise that 9 in 10 attendees say it has a positive impact on their business.

At CompTIA we work hard to ensure that it is a truly collaborative and rewarding environment, where the connections made will be just as valuable as the lessons attendees take home.

Even in our fast paced technology world you can never beat the value of face to face meetings and connecting in person!

The event was hosted by a combination of CompTIA leadership and industry experts, offering insights into key trends, relevant business challenges and the most notable opportunities in today’s market. 

As always I was really busy between conducting the official welcome for the Certs Partner Track and introducing a session on our latest certification, Cybersecurity Analyst (CSA+), sitting on a panel discussing "The Value of IT Training and Certification - An International Perspective", presenting on the topic of "Growth versus Fixed Mindset businesses" and finally providing the welcome address for the Canon meeting.

Once again I left full of excitement and enthusiasm with even more new ideas and some new challenges.

See you again next year!

John McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA


Other people first

This YouTube clip of Simon Sinek presenting to graphic designers at a conference struck a chord with me.

He tells a story of plane experience that I could relate to. We can all relate to it - he spoke of a selfish "seatmate" and who put herself first for the whole flight, not engaging, not standing up when he tried to get into his seat and demanding the last cereal .."me, me me". Simon reciprocated and the journey was more unpleasant than it should have been for both of them.

We have all been on that flight!

If you do something for someone they tend to reciprocate.

Simon talks about the importance of trust between people, with our institutions, with companies, with brands and with the people we work with.

If we have common sets of values and beliefs we tend to form bonds together that build a mutual trust. When we have this trust between us then powerful groups can be formed with everyone working together, relying on each other, watching each other's backs.

If we are authentic and genuine and we live and behave true to our values and beliefs then we will build trust - if we don't then that trust will be broken. That trust is between people, our employers, our brands, our institutions and our teammates.

Groups that trust each other can achieve much more than the individuals in the groups - we all have different strengths and weaknesses and when we work together in a trusting, supportive environment than great things can happen.

In his talk he pokes fun at self-help books because they are too selfish - 5 Ways to make me succeed, 5 ways to get rich. Once again they are all about "me, me, me".

Instead Simon challenges us with the idea that life would be a lot more productive and fulfilling if we tried to help our neighbour and our work mates instead of having that focus on ourselves - without this mindset the power of the group will never be realised.

His big lesson is to forget about "me, me, me" and instead put other people first.

Let's start tomorrow!

John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA




The Pilot and a Career in IT

Tom Cruise - Top Gun

I got in a plane recently and had an aisle seat as I always do.

On the inside seat at the window was a young kid with his headphones on. He took them off when I sat down and we made our introductions. He asked me what I did. I told him I worked for one of the largest IT certification providers in the world, people with our certs get hired into really good jobs in the IT industry. He picked up his headphones and before he put them back on, said "Cool accent man".

The middle seat between us was still empty as other passengers came on board so we thought we might have the middle seat free for the duration of the flight. We heard the doors close and one last passenger came down the aisle and sure enough occupied the middle seat.

He was a pilot for the airline and was wearing his uniform. As soon as he sat down, the kid at the window took off his headset and started taking to him. Quizzing him on the type of training a pilot needs, how long he had to train before becoming qualified, how much did it cost, how much a pilot starting out earns. They talked for the duration of the flight.

My takeaway from the story is that kids are not interested in careers in IT. They just don't see it as being "sexy" enough, not like being a pilot!

One of our biggest challenges in the IT industry is attracting young talent where we have a huge skills gap. There are fantastic opportunities in the IT industry providing fulfilling and rewarding careers to those starting their journey.

We need to demonstrate that a career in IT is as exciting as being a pilot!


John McGlinchey is the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development & Products for CompTIA

Why IT needs more WOMEN!

On a recent trip to Johannesburg, I presented at the facilities of one of our CompTIA training partners.  Afterwards, I had the opportunity to field questions from over 100 college students. They asked a lot of interesting questions, mainly around getting a job and how CompTIA’s certifications could help them get that job and start on a great career path.

With an incredible excess of four million open IT jobs globally and the workforce expected to shrink by over 30% in the next ten to fifteen years due to retirees, these sharp students all agreed they made the right career choice in choosing to study IT.

Interestingly, almost half the audience was female.  – a very similar ratio to the group of students I spoke with in Kuala Lumpur earlier this summer.  This gives me confidence that we were making great strides in getting more women into the world of IT.

That was, until I read an article in which suggests the gap between young men and women considering a career in the field of cybersecurity is widening.  (The results stem from a survey of almost 4,000 people ages 18-26 from 12 countries.)

Attracting young talent, particularly women, represents a huge challenge for the tech industry. If the trend continues, the already dire shortage of qualified tech workers will grow worse. Last summer, Google, Facebook, Apple and other big tech companies released figures showing that men out number women 4:1 or more in their technical sectors.

Based on recent research, women make up half our population and yet, just 10-15% of tech jobs in the U.S. were held by women (down from 35% in 1990). During the same period, the number of women earning computing degrees also declined.

This is alarming considering we all recognize the threat to our livelihoods from cyber criminals and that this issue is one of the key talking points in boardrooms across the world.

Innovative ideas are critical to addressing this challenge. I was thrilled to hear about a New York school that teaches amateur coders the skills to land high-paying professional jobs. Fullstack Academy won't charge tuition fees for its brand new all-women school until after its students land a job.

It is straightforward common sense: If a business only gets to pick staff from half of the working population, then it is recruiting from a pretty reduced talent pool. More women need to be encouraged into IT careers so the industry can pick from the best of both genders and a broader mix of skills and personalities.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey.  All Rights Reserved.

One marshmallow or two?  

The ability to delay or resist instant gratification is one of the most fundamental psychological skills.

A four-year-old is given a choice, have one marshmallow immediately or have two after waiting about 15 minutes.

It’s a challenge that surely would try the soul and restraint of any adult, never mind that of a pre- schooler.  It embraces the continual battle between impulse and restraint, desire and self-control. Turns out, the choice you make about the marshmallow, is a great indication of character and also of one’s future life direction.

As many of you may already know, this is the famous so-called “Stanford Marshmallow Experiment” carried out in the 60’s and 70’s by psychologist Walter Mischel, who tracked the participants from the start when they were four until they graduated from high school.

Those who resisted the initial temptation when they were four, became more socially adept, personally effective, more disciplined and better at coping with life’s pressures.

But, those who opted for the instant gratification at the young age, grew up demonstrating fewer of these qualities. They were lacking in social graces, stubborn and indecisive. They also got frustrated quicker, felt less deserving and got into arguments quicker.

What transpires from these early studies is a cautionary tale about how our traits and personalities from our formative years can influence our level of success later in life.  The ability to delay instant gratification or an impulse in the attainment of a goal is pivotal whether that be in closing a sale, building a business or winning a championship.

For those who lack the ability to control their impulses, all is not lost. There is, fortunately, also ample evidence that emotional skills can be enhanced as we make the journey through life.

We can remind ourselves to slow down and contemplate and not rush to react to every impulse.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey.  All Rights Reserved., 

Are you an exceptional employee?

Have you ever wondered why some people have more successful careers than others?

A recent study surveyed more than 500 business leaders and asked them what sets great employees apart. The researchers wanted to know why some people are more successful than others at work, and the number one reason may surprise you.

Topping  the list over qualities you might expect like “experience,” “education,” or other more quantifiable “skills” is this single, powerful word: “personality.”

The difficulty with this word, according to an article about the study by author Travis Bradberry, is to understand what those surveyed really mean when they put “personality” at the top of the list.

Our personalities are developed from an early age and are fixed by the time we enter early adulthood. Many important things about you change over the course of your lifetime, but your core personality isn’t one of them.

What leaders are really looking for and what they are referring to, then, according to Bradberry, is really Emotional Intelligence (EQ) which, Bradberry maintains is completely different from personality and from intellect (or IQ). Employers and leaders can and have confused these three qualities on many occasions.

Unlike your personality, which is more internal – prompting particular thoughts in your mind, for example; how you choose to externally react to those thoughts and situations is how our EQ is exhibited. These external EQ responses can be learned, practiced and developed.

Some of the EQ skills that set exceptional employees apart are:

    • They forge ahead in their work, confident that they’ll be rewarded later but unconcerned if they’re not.
    • They’re willing to admit when they’re wrong and willing to do things someone else’s way,
    • They’re able to maintain their composure while presenting their positions calmly and logically.
    • They’re able to withstand personal attacks in pursuit of the greater goal and never use that tactic themselves.
    • They focus on what matters
    • They think before they speak and wisely choose the best time and place to do so.
    • Exceptional employees are driven to improve, without forgetting to give themselves a healthy pat on the back.
    • They recognize when things are broken and fix them
    • They’re accountable and they bring their mistakes to management’s attention rather than hoping no one will find out. They understand that managers aren’t out to assign blame; they’re out to get things done
    • Exceptional employees are well liked by co-workers. They have integrity and leadership skills (even if they’re not in an official leadership position) that people respond to
    • They neutralize toxic people.  Exceptional employees control their interactions with toxic people by keeping their feelings in check. Even when things completely derail, emotionally intelligent people are able to take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring them down

It’s important to notice that years of experience, coding skills, business degrees, etc. are not included in any of the key traits that leaders are looking for. For sure, these are required to succeed in your career but they won’t make you exceptional.

Bradberry and others explain that exceptional employees don’t possess God-given personality traits; they rely on simple, everyday EQ skills that anyone can incorporate into their repertoire.

Copyright 2015 John McGlinchey. All Rights Reserved.