The hack pack: Harnessing the power of hackers to tackle cyber risk

Jennifer Arcuri is determined to change ideas about hacking – and in the process help fill the skills gap.

Cyber-security threats are nothing if not democratic – especially in a world of connected devices linked to the cloud. “It’s something I always flag up – security absolutely affects everyone,” says cyber-security expert and serial entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri, founder of the Innotech™ network of thought leaders. “It affects everyone within the digital economy who is paying bills online, banking online, texting and communicating online.”

Arcuri has made it her mission to improve awareness, education and training around cyber-security by homing in on an unusual – but often highly talented – source of expertise: hackers. A passionate advocate of harnessing the energy of hackers to confront cyber-security risk – “ethical hacking” – she is a driving force behind start-up consultancy Hacker House.

This is a unique “elite squadron of cyber-security professionals” skilled in testing new applications and responses to disaster attacks on critical infrastructure. It also emphasises the power of “hacking for good” and finding ways to train and educate cyber criminals and young people who have started to breach code.

Arcuri’s entrepreneurial career began in California in digital distribution, technology, and film production. Her work offers an innovative perspective not only on how to improve responses to cyber-security risks – but in the process address the UK’s digital skills gap.

She believes that securing a network isn’t just about programs to detect and respond to intrusions but will increasingly focus on our lack of cyber skills, the kind of skills that hackers can offer.

“My purpose with Hacker House was to create something that actually shows that a lot of the skills gap is just mis-channelled energy and that we’re aggregating this energy and putting it in the wrong places,” she explains. “But the majority of skills we need are already in the basement up and down this country – I know, because these people write to me on a daily basis.”