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Cyber Security for Business Executives

Course Overview

With digital systems playing an ever more central role in powering businesses, understanding cyber security has become fundamentally important to executives in all sectors, none more so than within industries that form a nation’s critical national infrastructure (CNI) e.g. finance, energy, health and telecoms. Available best practice guidance on cyber security encourages organisations to take a pro-active approach to increasing vigilance and implementing necessary precautions against threats. Within the leadership functions of your organisation this requires knowledge of what cyber threats are, the business contexts within which they exist, the available measures for dealing with them and the means for recovery should the worst happen. As a leader with indirect contact to the technical aspects of cyber-security, this course will equip you with the core knowledge needed to be conversant with tactical security functions within your organisation and to form informed cyber-security perspectives for strategy development.

Drawing on Imperial’s extensive expertise and experience in this area, industry-leading experts and relevant case studies, this programme will build core knowledge on the topic cyber-security, enabling you to better identify and understand the root causes of cyber risks within your business, how they might develop over time and how best to tackle them. Grasping the foundational material covered will not only enable you to have a more solid understanding of cyber risk today, but also how emerging security trends and technology issues might impact your organisation in the future.

The course assumes pre-existing competence in using IT systems but does not require previous experience in the fundamentals of how computers work, programming or a detailed knowledge of cyber security.

Who should attend this course?

Executives with decision making power in industries with significant cyber-security exposure, particularly those involved in CNI sectors e.g. financial services, energy, telecoms, health, government.

Content Outline

This short-course will aim to bridge strategic considerations of cyber-security and the more technical aspects of the subject. Importantly, you will be quickly familiarised with core topics in digital technology systems – stripping away unnecessary complexity – and shown how these relate to your business environment. The course begins with fundamental material on computing and builds on this so that you develop a solid understanding of how digital-systems may fail or be compromised and what the impact of cyber security events might be to an organisation. You will leave with a much better grasp of what hacking an organisation’s systems might entail and how to be better prepared to handle such risk.

Topics include:

  • Fundamentals of how computing systems operate – coding, applications and programs
  • Networks and communication – how systems interact with each other
  • Data – how is it generated, stored and analysed
  • Complexity and inter-relationship of systems – how technology is deployed in an organisation
  • Cyber-security – understanding vulnerabilities, threats and risks
  • Securing your infrastructure from attack
  • The future role of ‘non-technical’ management in delivering cyber-security
  • What do emerging topics like AI and blockchain mean for cyber-security – more problems or solutions?

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the core technology concepts that apply across cyber-security
  • A deeper understanding of different types of cyber vulnerability and how these might relate to risks to your business
  • Develop an understanding of the strategic and technical components needed for your organisation to manage cyber-security risks: processes, people and technology
  • Understand the role that ‘hot topics’ like encryption, AI and blockchain play in cyber-security
  • Improve your ability to engage with cyber-security strategy formulation
  • An enhanced understanding of how cyber-security is likely to evolve in the future
  • Establish a strong knowledge base for continued learning in cyber-security

Cyber Security Course Content

This programme explores the security of financial systems, an area of research currently being developed at the ISST. Participants will develop an understanding of cyber and physical threats – both malicious and those caused by internal system fault or human error – and explore the considerations, processes and mechanisms for protecting against unintended or unauthorised access.

Fundamentals of cyber technology (Part 1)

Computing systems: a primer

  • Ubiquity of computing: servers, cloud-computing, mobiles, control-systems, IoT, humans
  • How computers work: instructions, processing and memory
  • The binary language of digital systems: talking 1s and 0s in bits, bytes, words
  • Data: Generation, storage and retrieval

Instructing computers

  • Computer programs & applications: a brief look under the hood
  • Coding fundamentals: What are programming languages and why do we need them?
  • Coding examples: introduction via accessible pseudo-code examples

Fundamentals of cyber technology (Part 2)

Software: programs, applications and operating systems

  • Controlling the heartbeat of a computer: what is an operating system?
  • Programs and their permissions: what they can or can’t do within a system
  • Access control and logging on: local vs remote, different types of users

Networks of machines and the internet

  • Motivations for connecting digital systems: what is a network?
  • Data packets and their structure
  • Good timing: the importance of clocks
  • Wires vs wireless

Understanding cyber-security

Cyber security threats

  • Unpacking hacking: what is it?
  • Information technology vs operational technology
  • Taking control of machines: how can a network be hacked?
  • What can a malicious hacker achieve: cyber security threats and how they work
  • The problem of understanding cyber security risk: likelihood vs impact and mitigation
  • Incident response and responsibilities

Mitigating cyber risk

  • Implications of cyber warfare, cyber terrorism, cyber crime
  • Using people, processes and technology
  • Identifying business systems and assets
  • Privacy, cyber warfare, cyber terrorism, cyber-crime, politics, legislation

Case Studies

Active Learning and applying theory to practice: Designing a practical risk mitigation strategy and action response plan

Group exercises

Key course info

3 days
Imperial College Business School

Previous Exec-Ed participants

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