Safer Internet Day – Q&A with Samm Macleod, AGL

Samm Macleod, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at AGL shares how her passion for cybersecurity started and what she does to protect her family at home.

What sparked your interest in cybersecurity?
My cybersecurity passion started way back when it was Information Security and all about compliance; there was little by way of the Internet of Things (IoT) and my mobile phone was a Nokia. I hit peek nerd when I led an internal audit on security and risk for the company that I worked for, called Sarbanes-Oxley IT 404. It was quite fascinating to learn about the security risks of a financial institution that provides credit services to customers and the data we needed to protect. It was very early days for self-service in an industry with account servicing and this posed interesting security risks that needed to be managed. It hooked me in.

What does a typical day look like for you at AGL?
Every day is very different. I could be talking to other CISOs about the threats and compromises that they are experiencing or investigating who has access to what at AGL (and what they do with that access).

We support lots of business initiatives and projects by reviewing new third parties and technologies to make sure that they are secure. I’m all about my team so I spend loads of time collaborating and working with the cybersecurity crew on how to keep AGL, our people and our customers secure.

How do you manage internet use and safety with your family?
I’ve had my kids on acceptable use contracts for years! Including the right to audit. We’ve had timers on our Wi-fi to turn it off and password protection to avoid late night surfing. I’ve managed access via mac addresses on the modem. A good technique is to manage access to applications via iTunes and apply family settings for age appropriateness. I read a great book by Australia’s Cyber Cop, Susan McLean, called “Sexts, Texts, and Selfies”. She conducts training on how parents can protect their kids online, via her website, Cyber Safety Solutions and she’s amazing. One thing I love about her is her tenacity for keeping on top of phone apps that pose threats to kids.  The hardest thing I find, is talking to the kids about cyberbullying and cyberstalking. As a family we’ve talked a lot about this; My kids are older now – one’s nearly 18 and the other one is 22, so I have less of a say. I do send them all the alerts I get about scams and frauds. Now they tend to ask, “Hey mum, is this dodgy?”

What’s your top advice for staying safe online?
Activate multi-factor authentication on your banking and on other applications that may be storing your credit card information; use strong passwords or phrases that are hard to guess, and don’t reuse passwords (find a good password generator for your phone or computer that can do that for you). Utilise password managers to help store your passwords securely so you can easily access them when needed. And please monitor your kids’ access to the internet; know what they are doing with it and teach them how to stay safe online.