Cybersecurity Awareness Month:

Aidan Murphy, Searchlight Cyber

Aidan Murphy is Head of Content and Communications at the dark web intelligence company, Searchlight Cyber. He has worked in communications for the cybersecurity industry for over a decade and in his previous role was Head of Cybersecurity at the PR agency, FieldHouse Associates. Across his PR career, Aidan has specialised in working with UK cybersecurity startups as well as international brands such as IBM Security, Malwarebytes and Mandiant.

What attracted you to cybersecurity as a career path in comms?

“Initially, I was lucky enough to get my start in a PR agency that had some great cybersecurity brands as clients and a real depth of cybersecurity expertise within the team. I learnt the ropes from the people around me and, as time went on, always found myself drawn back to cybersecurity.

“For me, the attraction of cybersecurity is the simplicity of the narrative. In other areas of tech, the challenges or “enemies” you’re trying to overcome are abstract concepts like “high costs” or “inefficiency”. In cybersecurity, it’s literal bad guys, which makes communications far more exciting, urgent, and impactful.”

What do you feel is the most significant change in cybersecurity comms since you entered the industry?

“The innovation cycle in cybersecurity is fast, which means over a decade I’ve seen a lot of technologies come and go. The first blog I wrote as an intern was about the novel idea of using fingerprints as a password and I gave it the title “giving cybercriminals the finger”. Biometrics isn’t the “it” technology anymore, but that’s still a great pun.

“Cybersecurity is more “mainstream” than it was when I started. It has graduated to a breakfast-television level topic. But the fundamentals of communicating the challenge remain the same: how does our technology put us one step ahead of the cybercriminals?”

Is there still a place for events and trade shows in 2023? If so, which one’s a can’t-miss in your calendar?

“I think the pandemic left everyone nostalgic for conference halls and sometimes there’s just no substitute for meeting people in real life. The not-to-miss events for networking and catching up on the latest developments in the cybersecurity industry are RSA and Infosecurity Europe (the boring answers). But the BlackHat and BSides events are the best for seeing some proper research.”

What’s your favourite campaign/activation from another cybersecurity company in the last year or two?

“I’m a big fan of content-driven comms so, in memory of its recent passing, I’ll give a shout out to Sophos’ Naked Security threat newsroom. Impartial cybersecurity blogs are all the rage among cybersecurity companies now, but Naked Security was one of the first and best examples of backing your brand up with the intelligence behind it.”

Cybersecurity is a famously crowded space – from a PR/marketing perspective, what makes a company stand out from the crowd?

“Personally, I think the best way to cut through the noise of the cybersecurity industry is with razor sharp messaging. There’s a lot of waffle out there and the mistake most companies make is to try and parrot their competitors and be everything to everyone. As a result, they spread themselves too thin, use too much jargon, and what they actually do becomes unintelligible. If you can’t describe what the company does in one sentence you either need to work on your messaging or on your product.”

What’s been your biggest challenge?

“We (Searchlight Cyber) operate in a relatively nascent area of cybersecurity (there is no Magic Quadrant for dark web intelligence), which is both challenging and exciting. No one’s done the groundwork for us in defining the area and educating the market on why monitoring the dark web is so important. That means we have to do it ourselves, which is a big undertaking but gives us a fantastic opportunity to establish ourselves as the experts in this space.”

What are your comms predictions for 2024?

“The cybersecurity industry took a bit of a knock in confidence this year, but all signs point to it being on the rebound. My prediction is that 2024 will see activity back up to pre-pandemic levels in terms of innovation, marketing spend, and market activity. It should be an interesting year.”