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IT expert from Thurso warns of 'ever-changing' nature of cybersecurity threats in new book

By Niall Harkiss

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A Thurso man hopes to do his bit to increase awareness of cybersecurity with a new book on the subject.

Brian Mackay (54) hopes to crack the topic of cybersecurity for students and internet users alike.
Brian Mackay (54) hopes to crack the topic of cybersecurity for students and internet users alike.

Author and IT expert Brian Mackay saw his new self-publication, Cybersecurity Fundamentals Explained, hit the online shelves this past week – and the 54-year-old hopes it can be of help to students, business people and regular internet users alike.

Struggling to find a job, Mr Mackay took the decision to enrol in an HND at the age of 44, with the aim of building on his many years spent working in the IT sector.

Ten years later, he says that a lack of work opportunities at the time proved to be the catalyst for his decision to become a student of cybersecurity.

Mr Mackay said: "I have been in the IT sector since 1997, first starting out at the BT internet helpdesk in Thurso. I ended up working in various IT jobs after that, but by 2014, I was struggling to find a job, and my own stay-at-home business wasn't doing too well. It was then that I decided to enrol in an HND in computer networking.

"While studying, I discovered that there were cybersecurity modules in my course which interested me a lot. I found that the security of computer networks especially interested me. I was fascinated by the idea that hackers could bring large corporations to a halt by employing the simplest of tactics.

"With cybersecurity becoming a big issue for big corporations, small business and normal individuals, affected by hackers and malicious software, I wanted to learn more.

"I went on to study a new course at Edinburgh Napier University, eventually attaining a BSc degree in cybersecurity and digital forensics. It was Professor Bill Buchanan, one of my tutors at Edinburgh Napier, who then inspired me to go on to write a book about the topic."

Mr Mackay, who now lives and works in East Lothian, believes that organisations must embrace a "comprehensive" approach to cybersecurity that considers the "ever-changing nature of the threat landscape".

He added: "New things crop up all the time, and artificial intelligence is changing how we think about it. The advent of quantum cryptography has also changed things. The processing power of computers is miles faster than it used to be, and can crack passwords much quicker.

"The issue of cybersecurity is of paramount important in the digital age. With near-continuous revelations about incidents and breaches in the media, businesses and individuals are faced with the challenge of finding the right balance between risk, innovation and cost.

"At the same time, the field of cybersecurity is undergoing dramatic changes, demanding that organisations embrace new practices and skills. In this book, I explore the basics of it, and how ordinary people and businesses can ensure the safety and security of their data."

Cybersecurity Fundamentals Explained is available to buy online, with a paperback release also available on order from Mr Mackay at brianmackaythurso@gmail.com.

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