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Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Editor’s note: How to dodge the next cyber punch

Everything we do at home and work is becoming more connected, more complex and more digital, cyber resilience is critical to all of our lives.

By Gavin Allen, Editor-in-Chief, Huawei Technologies

Barely six weeks into his new job as President Obama’s Chief Information Officer, Tony Scott got punched square in the face.

Little wonder Tony looks back on it as “one of the worst days of my professional life.”

Luckily for him the punch in question was metaphorical not literal, in line with the heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson’s oft-quoted quip that “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

As the federal executive ultimately responsible for the oversight and security of the American government’s computer technologies, Tony’s “punch” was the discovery that there’d been a massive federal data breach and that more than 20 million sensitive personal records had been stolen.

How he coped – and overhauled the federal cyber security systems as a result – goes to the heart of the theme of this edition of Transform: resilience.

“Most of the time you don’t know where the punch is coming from,” he told me, in reference to cyber security attacks. “It might be to the nose or to the mouth or somewhere else. But if you practice several different scenarios, you will be a bit more ready no matter where that punch comes from than if it hits you for the first time and it’s a shock”.

Practice may not make perfect but it at least attempts to keep you one step ahead of the hackers, he said, adding that the battle is an endless one. In a world in which everything we do at home and work is becoming more connected, more complex and more digital, cyber resilience is critical to all of our lives. And, as he advises business leaders, “at a minimum, you have as many holes as you have employees in your cyber security architecture because every employee could be a potential entry point”.

As well as his claim in our discussion that “cyber security can be fun” – yes, reader, I raised an eyebrow - he also revealed who he found to be the most personally resilient public figure he’d ever met – but of course I’ll leave you to watch the interview to find out who that was.

Meanwhile the former rugby world cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, who also features in this edition, explains why resilience should be built from victories as well as from defeats. It’s about preparing for and learning from both – and then discovering 100 things you could do just 1% better as a result.

And technology excites him because it enables a team to together measure and learn from data. But be warned: “There's no point getting measurements unless you actually get the right learnings from it.” Sir Clive tells me how everyone, from sport or business to life in general, can be personally resilient – it takes coaching, communication and teamwork. And key is recognizing that there will – not could - be setbacks and defeats along the way. “Resilience like life isn’t a smooth upward line, but” – as he indicates with his hand, “a constant up and down.”

And since every edition of Transform is a rich mix of contributors we’ll also hear why digital twins can make cities more resilient, review the new research linking a country’s digital infrastructure to its ability to bounce back from Covid, learn why technology seems to be a more popular and effective means to managing human emotions than managers and find out how a range of international visitors to the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona defined resilience.

Videos, articles, interviews and insights – dive in and, as always, let me know what you make of it.

Hopefully you’ll find it a punchy read.

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