Not everyone is familiar with the movie Black Panther, another Marvel Comic classic. But if you are, you’ll know the tech savvy Princess Shuri has one of the most brilliant minds in the world. Afterall she’s the Chief science officer for Wakanda, a position she cherishes much more than her royal status.

So, with the Marvel hysteria and a lot of the classics coming to the big screen we took the opportunity to gather information from non-fictional everyday superheroes with superpowers. Such as the Engineering Services Manager at Webroot, Briana Butler.

Princess of Wakanda, Shuri is extensively trained in martial arts and got her powers of enhanced speed, agility, strength, endurance from consuming the purple heart-shaped herb. And her uniform is made of vibranium, a fictional type of metal. She also invented gloves that are able fire her enemies with sonic blasts . How did you get your data protection superpowers?

After deciding that she needed a bit of a life reboot she ended up back at school. Previously Briana was a retail buyer who decided on a computer science degree before switching to business school.

Briana says she “ was hired at Webroot to be a bridge between engineering and business – you have to have people that can speak both languages – and that’s exactly what I wanted to do and what I was trying to forge with my new career.”

Firstly, she began as a data analyst at Webroot. To clarify her role, it involved working on privacy compliance, GDPR, CCPA, and data mapping. During which she grasped an understanding of where data is stored and processed, and exactly who has access to it.

Now in her latest role as the Engineering Services Manager, firstly she helps both engineering and product with personnel and hiring needs. Secondly, she ensures ISO certification. When ISO certification is implemented, it is a strategic activity that preserves the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information by applying risk management processes to adequately manage threats.

In addition, Briana also ensures the development teams stay up to date with the fast pace of tech and receive the particular- training they need to get their job done.

Q: Shuri had several super powerful gadgets, like the vibranium suit, remote piloting and holograms instead of phone calls. Is cyber resilience a superpower?

If we are like the many, a Marvel comic and movie buff we’re aware that every superhero has a different superpower. Likewise, cyber resilience, is our own personal toolbox of powers. Most importantly, we can use this toolbox of powers to ensure our data is safe against these malicious actors.

To help stop malicious actors making money off our data, our toolbox of cyber resilience includes some basic best practices such as

  1. creating a strong password,
  2. not clicking on every link or opening- up every attachment that comes into your email inbox
  3. improving our daily behaviours of how to navigate and defend yourself online.

The goal is to avoid disrupting our online use.

Q: What about our data? Does that give us any powers that we wouldn’t have without it?

Whether it’s a business with something to sell or a malicious actor, they all want our data, data, data. And when we give it away, it becomes more powerful because they know things about us. Therefore, our Privacy is important! It’s time we investigate exactly who businesses share our data with. In other words, it’s time for all of us to understand what we’re sharing. We give away so much more than what we should. So, we need to ask ourselves, do I really want to share?

Q: Shuri encountered the enemies of Wakanda head on with little to no fear. Who are the enemies in the digital world?

There is a huge spectrum of enemies with one purpose in mind. To steal your data.

Firstly, there are the cybercriminals and malicious actors trying to steal your data to sell it on the dark web. For example, the criminal trying to hack into your Hulu account. Secondly, there are nation-state actors and the sites you buy things from, all wanting your data. Therefore, it’s so important you’re aware of what you’re sharing and who you’re sharing it with and the privacy rules. Afterall there’s big money in data.

Briana says that she has even “started reading privacy policies – those long, convoluted legal documents – to see if I can understand where I’m going to be sharing my information and make a more conscious decision.”

Brian even went through one of the large social platforms, and asked

  • Am I really okay sharing this information?
  • Do I really need this service or platform?
  • Is it necessary in exchange for what I’m about to share with them?

And in the end, she decided not to sign up for it.

Above all, Briana went through a bit of a clean-up. “It was a bit frustrating and somewhat time-consuming”, she said but she cleaned up all her passwords. And best of all she started using a password manager. All those passwords, all those different websites. Most of us have between 15 to 20 password-protected accounts. When Briana went through hers, she had upwards of 100!

Briana shares that one of my favourite topics is password strength. Just recently along with Maurice Schmidtler, the head data scientist, who created a Monte Carlo simulation they did an analysis of password configurations. Briana said, “we took what you usually see when you’re told to create a password – like using uppercase and lowercase letters or special symbols – and applied those within the simulation.” Interesting, Maurice and Briana found that the more password limitations you put on making a password, the fewer the password options. Therefore, the less chance of making a strong password. And, of course that means there’s a decrease in the number of good password options. But if you were to hone- in on, creating a strong password, where length is more important rather character-type limitations, you’ll end up with a much stronger password. Afterall it takes more computing power to break. Therefore length = strength.

Shuri was part of the Wakandan Royal family who were entrusted to protect the Wakandan people. So, even she needed the help of others to defeat Wakandan enemies. Do we need help from others to be more cyber resilient?

We are all fallible humans, so we all need a bit of help from time to time. For instance, someone may inadvertently, click on a malicious link.

And that’s the reason we encourage regular cybersecurity awareness training for staff. When it comes to risking a ransomware threat, or really any other attack, you need to be fully aware of the pitfalls. That way too staff have the right tools and know how to truly understand the threat landscape. So when there’s an actual breach, staff are already prepared with their current backup that’s going to allow you to recover data instead of losing it permanently. And lastly how to identify the most prevalent types of attacks and guard against them. 

Q: Shuri has used her fighting skills in many instances but for added protection she used her vibranium defensive suit. When it comes to cyber resilience how do we continue to keep up the fight and maintain our defences?

Firstly, in this digital age giving over your information too easily, like your name and address are ways to weaken the defences in the fight. It’s called oversharing and it is the way criminals can get insight on you, to use against you through social engineering.

Secondly, poor cyber hygiene such as repeating passwords for many logins. As a result, criminals only need get into one platform to then gain entry to multiple sites you use. For instance, your Netflix account, could have the same password as your bank account. Bingo! Next thing you know someone has just got away with some of your cash. You’ve now been attacked from the front and the back.

Lastly, another thing that weakens our defences is by not protecting your home network and not using VPN when you’re on public Wi-Fi. Briana says that people think, “it won’t happen to me, until it’s too late.” The recovery can be time consuming and costly. So, to strengthen up your defences implement layers of protection. In other words, strengthening up cyber resilience it will help to keep your digital world pain free. Free of complications, secure and easy. No headaches from a sudden blow to the head!

We might have to wait a little longer for the release of Black Panther II, due in May 2022.  But I’m sure when we do watch it, we’ll now be thinking about honing our cybersecurity skills for our best defences. While of course we’re watching the amazing Shuri work her martial arts skills, put on her special protective suit and use her most brilliant mind to come up with a new tech savvy power tool.