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Iain Johnston and Chris Hurst

Iain Johnston and Chris Hurst are the top team of Blackwired, which brings a military philosophy to defending nations and enterprises against threats from the Dark Web. Chris brings a lifelong interest in computers and lessons learned as CSIO in BT, while Iain contributes the experience of a military career more recently applied to Cyber.

In this interview they describe the fundamentals of the Dark Web and the activities within its industrial complex before moving on to illustrate its significance to the critical activities of commerce and Government. The interview illustrates, with examples, the potency of the threat from the Dark Web and what the emerging industry of cyber countermeasures can do to protect us all.

Ben Wood

As a graduate trainee at Vodafone in 1985, Ben Wood little realised the significance of the industry he was joining. “Who would have thought the mobile phone would become the most prolific electronics device on the planet?” he says.

In 2020, Ben set up the Mobile Phone Museum, which has hundreds of handsets ranging from the earliest devices to collectors’ gems such as the Huawei KFC phone, emblazoned in red and engraved with an image of Colonel Sanders.

Although currently virtual, the aim is for the museum to have a physical pop-up exhibition by 2025, in time for the 40-year anniversary of the first mobile phone call made in the UK.

Ben is also chief analyst and chief marketing officer at CCS Insight, a consultancy focused on connected technology, which he has helped grow from three people in the UK to a global team of 30.

Ben was not hugely academic at school, but flourished at university, especially during a year’s work placement at Texas Instruments in the south of France. “I had a luggable laptop, desktop computer and an email address, which was quite exciting at the time,” he says, “a trigger for making tech part of my life.”

Working for an American multinational proved a “wonderful immersion” in the way IT was evolving. It also taught him how to build empathy with people and maximise business relationship. He worked his way up through the industry until, in 2001, he became the youngest ever research VP at Gartner.

Still a consultant, Ben has never lost his love of gadgetry, and changes his phone every three to five weeks. This keeps him up-to-date with the latest in foldable phones, wrap-around screens, 5G, and connectivity with smart-watches, smart-glasses and headphones. He even wears a ring that functions as a credit card.

Such devices will play an increasing role in healthcare over the next few years, he says, perhaps measuring blood sugar and body temperature as well as heart-rate and sleep patterns.

In 2020, Ben set up the Mobile Phone Museum, which has hundreds of handsets ranging from the earliest devices to collectors’ gems such as the Huawei KFC phone, emblazoned in red and engraved with an image of Colonel Sanders.

Although currently virtual, the aim is for the museum to have a physical pop-up exhibition by 2025, in time for the 40-year anniversary of the first mobile phone call made in the UK.

Ben is also chief analyst and chief marketing officer at CCS Insight, a consultancy focused on connected technology, which he has helped grow from three people in the UK to a global team of 30.

Dave Miles

As Director of Safety Policy at Meta (formerly Facebook) for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Dave Miles has more than thirty years of executive management experience in the technology, regulatory and charitable sectors.

Among Dave’s significant career moments was his participation in the Child Dignity in the Digital World Congress and 2017 Declaration of Rome, returning to the Vatican in 2019 to respond on Facebook’s behalf to the Pope’s call to action.

He is optimistic that technology can now provide safer solutions for young people, and says the industry is highly motivated to keep its platforms safe, so that people will continue to use them.

“The challenge will be about balancing privacy and safety for young people. The UK’s draft Online Safety Bill is very exciting and Meta looks forward to its publication,” he says. “If we get it right here in the UK, other countries will follow. In 10 years, the internet will be a more mature, regulated environment and we will stop perhaps calling it the “Wild West.”

Simon Gibson CBE & Mike Doyle

Professor Simon Gibson CBE co-founded the Alacrity Foundation with Owen Matthews in 2009. Mike Doyle was appointed CEO when the Foundation opened its doors in South Wales in 2011.  With the backing of Sir Terry Matthews, OBE and the UK and Welsh Government, Alacrity aims to educate graduates to become a new generation of IT entrepreneurs.

Simon joined the GPO as a telephone technician. He worked with telecommunications companies during the period of deregulation and joined Newbridge Network Corporation at its start-up in 1987. He was VP of marketing and helped build it into a $7.1 billion company. Simon and Michael Doyle founded Ubiquity Software in 1993, which was a leader in the development of the (ubiquitous) Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and achieved one of the biggest VC funding rounds in the history of the software industry in the UK.

 

Michael Doyle was sponsored through university by GEC Telecommunications, where he wrote software for the Systems X exchange. He worked as a contractor for five years and then co-founded Ubiquity with Gibson. 

 

The Alacrity Foundation is operating in 8 locations around the world. It has been responsible for helping young entrepreneurs launch new ventures based on a demand-driven model. Many graduated companies from Alacrity have successfully scaled up and raised further funding rounds.

Mischa Dohler

Mischa Dohler is now Chief Architect in Ericsson Inc. in Silicon Valley, USA, having previously been Professor in Wireless Communications at King’s College London.

He was born in Germany, into a family of scientific academics, who were also talented in music and business.  He has continued the family tradition, as academic, entrepreneur and musician.  Mischa brings all those skills and interests to bear on his approach to technology, speaking eloquently of its relevance to diverse aspects of our lives; industrial, personal and cultural.

He demonstrated the power of 5G communications to enable collaboration over the Internet in a real time duet with his daughter 1000 km away and looks forward to medicine, industry and culture developing with 6G and the Internet of Things, Skills and beyond.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting has been fascinated by telecommunications since childhood, and a love of science fiction, particularly the writings of Arthur C Clarke, fostered his enthusiasm for technology.

At school his best subjects were English, French and Latin, but in those days it was hard to combine sciences and arts. So he did A’levels in chemistry, maths and his favourite, physics, going on to gain a degree in electronic and electrical engineering at the University of Surrey, and a PhD.

In 1985, Sir Martin set up Surrey Satellite Technology with about £100 and four employees. The company pioneered rapid-response, low-cost and highly capable small satellites, on which much of our modern life depends. In 2008, SST was sold to Airbus Defence & Space for £50m, but Sir Martin is still executive chairman. The company now has 400 professional staff, annual revenues of more than $100m and total export sales in excess of $1bn to 25 countries. Among its many focuses is clearing up the increasing amount of space debris, which represents a significant threat to the next generation of satellites.

Sir Martin was awarded an OBE in 2002 and won the 2008 Arthur C Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and listed by Sunday Times as one of the 500 most influential UK citizens.

Bill D’Arcy

Billy D’Arcy is Chief Executive Officer for BAI Communications group’s UK operation. A global leader in the design, build and operation of communications networks on transport systems, BAI is installing a network-neutral telecoms infrastructure in the London Underground so that mobile users can get the service from whatever network operator they choose. This decades long project involves investment in excess of £1Bn upgrading the technology into 6G and beyond, as well as providing above ground infrastructure for emergency services, traffic management and Wi-Fi.

Billy has spent 30 years in the telecommunications industry at Cable and Wireless in Ireland, O2 and faced keeping his customers served when WorldCom was in Chapter 11. He shares his views on Ireland, building business enterprises, treating people right and what makes a great shareholder.