MAX 2016 – A software upgrade for your mind, security and more

Pete Roythorne

It’s not often you get to see a room full of IT guys meditating, but that’s exactly what Day 1’s visiting keynote Jack Black from Mindstore managed to pull off. Jack who specialises in leadership, performance and personal development started off by saying that MSPs’ clients must see them as Gods as they try to help them navigate the technology storm ahead of them. 

Black.jpg“We’re living in extraordinary times, the world is changing fast and technology is changing even faster,” he explained. “So how do you manage to be flexible and grow against this back drop of change?  Extraordinary times call for extraordinary people to do extraordinary things. Ordinary just isn’t good enough.”

According to Jack it’s all about Mindset. His first question to the audience was to think about extraordinary people who have inspired them? Then to look at what characteristic stands out. As he explained these characteristics normally boil down to four things:

1/ Oomph

Inspiring people have bags of energy. Somehow they manage to keep up an almost super-human intensity, manage their stress and always seem collected.

2/ Positivity

There is no room for negativity. 

3/ Futurists

You need to have vision and know what your goals are. Most people get sucked along hoping someone else has the vision. 

4/ Use both sides of your brain

This was the climax of Jack’s presentation. It was only in 1981 that scientists discovered the ability to balance your left and right brain hemisphere – the left being your analytical side and the right being your creative side. The thinking being that by accessing your right you can be flexible and use your creativity to cope with change.

Jack believes put forward that this is the most powerful way to manage stress and to look at the future in a different way. The purpose of his keynote was to give us the tools to do this, to manage our own mindset and give us a software upgrade for our minds.  

The answer: mindfulness. Jack then walked the audience through a simple mediation technique that we can all take away to help unlock the creativity of our right brains, embrace that positive energy and bring it into our businesses.

Back down to earth

trump.jpgPerhaps a little less challenging for some, but no less inspirational, was Ian Trump’s “Are you ready to be an MSSP” talk. 

Ian Trump, now Global cyber security strategist SolarWinds® MSP, started his presentation by outlining the challenge in the security market. The value of the cybersecurity market is predicted to grow from $75bn to $170bn over the next few years – however this is against a cybercrime market that is reportedly worth $2trn… “Does anyone see the problem here?” asked Ian, and likened it to Western Samoa taking on the United States.

Despite this worrying start he went on to highlight some of the strategies that can help MSPs be successful in this market. Plus he looked at what the future might be like in terms of what the bad guys are going to be up to, with the ultimate aim of helping MSPs stay one step ahead of the curve.

One of his growing concerns is the rise in advanced persistent threat (APT) and the growth of Cybercrime as a Service. He highlighted a recent example from Syria to show how even nation state actors were crossing over into the “commercial” cybercrime market to make a bit of money on the side. Worrying stuff.

Another thing to get Ian’s ire was password management. He highlighted how the re-use of passwords across different channels was killing companies and individuals. And set this out as a key area of opportunity for MSPs to take a lead.

He also said that MSPs had a duty to their customers to make sure they understand the cybersecurity threat and potential impact on businesses. This meant they needed to move away from thinking just about technology and instead look at the people side. The internal threat landscape and the creation of policies is a big area of opportunity for MSPs, particularly with GDPR just around the corner.

Another key area to get Ian’s ire were wireless and IoT. Even the humble thermostat can be weaponised, he explained. He went on to detail how he had bought a cheap internet-enabled DVR and hooked it up to see how quickly it would get infected without changing the factory settings and password – it lasted just six hours. 

This highlights the challenge that IoT will bring for MSPs with customer connecting all sort of stuff to their networks without die regard for security. Ian’s answer to the problem? A baseball bat. You had to be there!

Growing pains

marcus.jpgAnother particular highlight for the afternoon session included Marcus Lewis’ talk. Marcus manages the design, development and review of managed services and security solutions at Capital Support. He detailed the company’s growth trajectory from start up to multi-million pound turnover and buyout. Marcus showed how the company had rolled with the punches through the recession of 2008 and the subsequent fall out in their niche market, and how they had adapted and innovated their way through the toughest of times.