YAHOO has joined the list of companies plagued by data breaches such as MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and Tumblr, with hackers stealing the data of more than 500,000 of its users, writes Greg Russell.

Hackers have also been in the news after the leak of malware and hacking tools from American’s National Security Agency (NSA) were leaked last month – although it has since emerged that a former NSA employee had left the tools on a server.

Now cyber security is back on the agenda at an Edinburgh conference, which will be addressed by a world-renowned expert in the field.

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ScotlandIS, which is organising the ScotSoft developers' conference, has lined up Troy Hunt – Microsoft’s regional director and most valuable professional (MVP) – as keynote speaker.

The Australia-based expert will be drawing on his years of experience running the ethical data-breach service Have I Been Pwned.

Hunt will look at what motivates attackers to dump data publicly, how it is sold, traded and redistributed and why. He will also share his experiences of interacting with the people who attack the systems, those who have been affected and the role of law enforcement agencies.

Polly Purvis, ScotlandIS chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Troy to the Developers Conference. Cyber security is a hot topic and one that is becoming ever more important in our digital world. Whilst it’s a continuing challenge for technology businesses to ensure their products, systems and solutions have security built in at all stages, cyber security also provides huge opportunities for Scottish companies to develop new world-class solutions.

“The Scottish Government has developed a strategy to make the nation a world leader in cyber resilience by 2020. In order to get there, businesses need really to be well informed about security risks and prepared to deal with them so that they can make the most of digital technology.”

Recent Hewlett Packard figures found that cybercrime is costing UK companies an average of £4.1 million for each incident, a rise of £3m since 2013. And a PWC report stated that 38 per cent more security incidents were disclosed in 2015 than in the previous year, a rise of 56 per cent in the theft of “hard” intellectual property.

Purvis added: “Troy will talk about first-hand experience of major data breaches he has worked on and share lessons learned. He’ll shed light on how hackers operate and the weaknesses they exploit within organisations. The takeaways will be invaluable for all sizes of digital technology companies.

“The Scottish digital technologies industry is thriving and that is reflected in the calibre of speakers at this year’s event. ScotSoft is the largest event of its kind in Scotland and it’s fantastic to see it going from strength to strength.”

The conference offers developers the opportunity to meet, share knowledge and inspire each other. It is part of the wider ScotSoft programme, which includes the annual Global Forum event for decision makers in business, and a public sector briefing.

The theme for this year’s global forum is Think Big, Move Fast and will feature presentations from Sam Ramji, CEO of Cloud Foundry, and Rob Jones, co-founder of FanDuel.

Panel sessions will explore the question of how to build a global business, the challenges of scaling for growth and staying agile.

The evening session will see the annual Young Software Engineer of the Year Awards, where Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy will be the special guest and speaker.

ScotSoft 2016 will be held at the EICC in Edinburgh on October 6.