Cybersecurity is an essential constant within our digital lives. In order to safely work and connect online, and therefore enjoy the process, we need sufficient protection. It might not be an aspect of the digital world you recognise on a daily basis, but you’d certainly know about its absence or failure. As it is officially Health Month here at techSPARK, we wanted to shine a light on a team that puts a focus on security for healthcare.

Cybersecurity has been an important sector since the computer was invented, but things look a lot different for the cyber teams in 2022 than they did in 1945. The South West is home to a bustling community of cyber experts – just check out the Bristol & Bath Cyber site to see what we mean – all of whom are working on the front line of cyber protection. To get the inside scoop on what this is like and why it is so important, we caught up with cyber security specialists, and Best Cyber Company winners at The SPARKies, Core to Cloud.

Kelly Allen, Chief Marketing Officer at Core to Cloud, who also sits on the board as one of the company’s directors, summarises for us, “We bring innovative and disruptive tech that people may not be aware of, or maybe didn’t know they need, to the market to support our customers, the small teams and the ever-changing environments that come with cybersecurity.”

She explains their mission is to ensure as many businesses as possible are fortified with the systems they need to prevent cyber attacks, and ensuring they are monopolising on these: “It’s all well and good having all these amazing technologies, but are you utilising them enough? Are you getting the best results out of that? And have you got a support team at hand? We make sure that if a crisis hits, or if you need an extra pair of hands to help, we’re there at all times.”

Building solutions for a safer world 

Kelly explains that when James Cunningham and Mark Liddell founded Core to Cloud in 2015, they set out with four pain pain points to address, which underpins the essence of cybersecurity executed well: 

Visibility – Allowing users to see and know what it is on their network

Validation – Ensuring everything is in place as needs be, assisted by continuous and regular testing

Governance and control – Knowledge of where your data is, if you have access to it and if there are any data laws being broken 

Response – Implementing necessary automation for when people aren’t on hand to deal with any support needed

Core to Cloud’s main sector is in the NHS and healthcare more broadly, Kelly tells us being involved in the protection of our society’s most precious system is both extremely rewarding and eye-opening. To illustrate the impact of cybersecurity in healthcare, Kelly says, “I’ve had two children since being at Core to Cloud and I have never been in the hospital and ever considered, ‘what if the computers went down mid C section because of a cyber attack,’ or worried about my medical records being tampered with to change what blood type is or my allergies.”

There are countless examples of what could go wrong in healthcare without sufficient cybersecurity in place, as we saw recently when computers crashed amidst the heatwave last month in London. Kelly tells us: “Blood banks, in particular, need strong protection. All blood banks are highly connected to computers so staff is aware of when stock is low. If this computer gets intercepted, not only will lots of data be stolen, but the doors to the storage room will automatically lock. Without a quick response time and solution, the stock is at risk of becoming unusable.” 

Thankfully most people can resonate with this sense of trust, largely due to the unsung heroes working in cybersecurity today. Kelly continues, “At the end of the day, it protects the most important thing and that’s us as people.

“That’s why I love cybersecurity. In one sense it’s a little bit James Bond and that’s a little bit sexy, but there’s also the fact that if your traffic lights get taken over, or airplane schedules get hacked, the only major impact is life. I like to think I’m doing my little small part of making the world safer.” 

As our world becomes evermore amalgamated with technology, these issues only become increasingly prevalent. As tech gets smarter, so do hackers. Gone are the days of easily detectable scams, “I remember the days when my Nan would get emails claiming that my uncle was stuck in Spain, and can she transfer X amount of money to rescue him. The level of sophistication in the last three or four years has skyrocketed, and we need to be more resilient.”

An everchanging challenge

Now it’s not just an important era for cybersecurity, it’s also a great time to join the sector. These two go hand in hand, as the demand, fast pace, and variety of work all contribute to why it is the perfect time to get involved. 

Kelly says, “The environment is constantly changing; something’s always new. You think you’ve got a really great solution and then the next thing comes out. The speed and pace make it extremely exciting – it’s never boring. Things come out and blow my mind every day.”

With the cyber sector bringing in a record-breaking £1bn of investment raised by dedicated cyber security firms in the last 12 months, the growth of cyber is showing no signs of slowing down. As investment is pumped into the sector, we’re excited to see what the future holds, but what exactly is to come is impossible to predict. Kelly adds, “The hacks, ransomware, and the toolsets will change and the problems will probably shift, but the one thing I do know that is cybersecurity is here to stay.”

Kelly tells us one of the biggest myths about working in cybersecurity is that it’s “just some guy in a hoody, sat behind a computer.” She emphasises that “this image is simply not true. You’ll find an array of personalities and backgrounds. Everyone adds their own flavour to it.

“There’s also a myth that it can be quite boring and dry. It has a persona that no one really talks to each other and just hacks with a computer, which is again just not true. There’s such a community feel to working in tech generally. It’s a very collaborative space – you don’t get the same rivalries as you do in other industries, as there is an ideology that we can all get better by working together.” 

The Core to Cloud really felt this at The SPARKies earlier this summer. On winning Best Cyber Company, Kelly says the team felt like the underdogs: “We entered it really from a brand awareness perspective, and just thought let’s give this a try. We had absolutely no expectations as the companies we were up against had much bigger and long-standing teams.

“The whole experience was so electric for all the businesses. There’s such a buzz in Bristol – all of the young, new and upcoming businesses create this energy, and some have achieved raising significant funding. So then when we won, I mean, I nearly put my drink in my lap – it was a total shock. We were, proud, incredibly proud. It was very humbling.” 

Thanks to Kelly for taking the time to talk to us about Core to Cloud and life in cybersecurity. To find out more, check out their website here, and make sure to keep an eye on more Health Tech features to come.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.