A safe Shelter in the cyber world

April 1, 2021

With the COVID-19 pandemic having solely additional heightened our reliance on expertise, the want for robust IT safety has by no means been extra necessary. One firm serving to to enhance resilience is Newcastle-based CyberShelter. Steven Hugill speaks to founder Martin Hart to be taught extra.


Martin Hart is aware of all about foiling opportunists.

As founding father of Newcastle-based CyberShelter, his day by day is devoted to serving to people and corporations repel fraudsters by making certain organisations run the tightest of IT safety protocols.

It’s a spotlight that goes again a long time – all the means, in truth, to the late Nineteen Eighties, when a younger Martin, contemporary from learning digital and electrical engineering at Newcastle Polytechnic, took his first job with NCS on a Tyne and Wear Metro venture.

“It was a very large contract to take care of the Metro’s ticket machines and boundaries, and I used to be a part of an inflow of individuals to ship the experience required,” says Martin.

“Parts could be introduced from the stations, we’d work on the circuit boards, and so they’d be despatched again once more to be used.

“However, even in these days, I bear in mind how the ticket machines had been focused by fraudsters.

“People would wrap a ten pence piece in silver foil, which might trick the machines into pondering it was really a 50 pence coin.

“They would then purchase a 5 pence youngsters’s ticket and pocket the relaxation as change.”

While offering an perception into scammers’ behaviour that may assist inform his future profession, the Metro work handed Martin different essential expertise.

This time, although, it was a burgeoning expertise agency that may go on to dominate the market.

He says: “When the Metro contract ended, I went to work in NCS’ Ponteland workplace.

“By then, we weren’t fixing circuit boards, however the firm had simply develop into an Apple authorised service supplier; it was the largest Apple vendor in the North for 20 years.

“This was again in the days of the Apple Mac Plus, the LC, the II and IIfx, and we labored throughout the nation,
taking care of guarantee repairs and upkeep contracts.”

A licensed Apple and Microsoft engineer, Martin rose via the ranks, holding titles together with service supervisor, earlier than the 2008 international monetary disaster dramatically altered the panorama.

As the firm he labored for floundered, Martin took daring motion and, utilizing the abilities he had acquired, picked up its service division and based his personal IT agency.

He says: “When issues began to implode, we stated to individuals, ‘for those who transfer to my firm, we are going to honour your contract and you’ll proceed working with a enterprise that has Apple authorisation.

“Every shopper moved over.”

The enterprise lasted ten years till Martin, who had operated as technical director, bought the firm in 2017.

After taking a brief break, he launched CyberShelter, harnessing his expertise and fame to launch a brand new service targeted on IT safety consultancy in an age of ever-increasing web threats and the proliferation of social media.

“A couple of issues alerted me to the significance of establishing a brand new enterprise,” says Martin, who holds the Certified Ethical Hacker and Vulnerability Assessor Plus {qualifications}, and can be an authorized Information Systems Security Professional.

“Cloud computing was up-and-coming, and I knew there wanted to be help for corporations making that swap, however there was additionally an actual significance round corporations checking back-up information; too many weren’t doing that continuously sufficient and in the event that they had been, they typically weren’t doing it correctly.

“Furthermore, having been beforehand licensed by operators resembling Cisco, Juniper Networks and Fortinet, I wished to place my experience and people technical endorsements to make use of in a contemporary means.”

Based at Byker’s Hoults Yard, CyberShelter – whose purchasers embrace companies in Scotland and Ukraine – gives impartial recommendation on IT and community safety, IT infrastructure and GDPR.

Working with clients that span a mess of sectors, from authorized and manufacturing, to retail and design, the agency carries out audits, assesses
the energy of firewalls, checks networks and WiFi connections, and delivers vulnerability scans on servers and PCs.

Using the similar instruments utilized by hackers to examine and take a look at networks, CyberShelter – which is a member of the invite-only North East Business Resilience Centre – additionally works with organisations’ current IT suppliers to ship an impartial view on future funding.

A certifying physique for the Government-endorsed Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus schemes – which verify corporations are compliant with IT trade requirements and have protocols in place to scale back the potential for assaults – the agency can be certified to offer on-site IASME Governance certification, which formally recognises an organisation’s GDPR compliance.

“We do plenty of work round resilience, catastrophe restoration planning and safe electronic mail internet hosting,” says Martin, “and if somebody has any sort of vulnerability, we are going to discover it.

“We principally examine the whole lot, asking questions like, ‘when was the final time you probably did a failover, or a knowledge restore from backup media?’ as a result of individuals very hardly ever do it.

“Cyber Essentials will mitigate round 80 per cent of assault vectors, and Cyber Essentials Plus, except for independently verifying the CE certification, additionally scans for about 70,000 recognized vulnerabilities and offers a report that charges danger from low to medium, excessive and important.

“IASME Governance is the solely official certification that claims and proves an organization is GDPR compliant too; it is rather necessary.”

While making certain programs stay strong technically, one other essential part of Martin’s work is concentrated on individuals – and their consciousness of hackers and scammers.

Highlighting the social engineering aspect of fraudsters’ assaults, whereby people are focused with legitimate-looking emails asking for username and password particulars, Martin says vigilance is vital.

To that finish, CyberShelter – partnering with USecure – gives assessments and on-line coaching programmes to make sure workers are alert to phishing ploys. He says: “If there’s a means round one thing, it is going to be discovered.

“But I’ve been concerned in implementing programs and educating individuals round stopping fraud for a very long time.

“I’ve obtained plenty of expertise in IT fraud and safety and have a powerful technical background, and I do know the place issues can go flawed.

“A key a part of the work I do is speaking to corporations about their use of data and the significance of making certain their programs are vigilant in opposition to assaults and that their individuals are cautious of manipulation makes an attempt.

“IT safety is a critically severe situation, and we’re right here to assist people keep cautious and organisations throughout the board guarantee their infrastructures stay strong.”

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