For big internet service providers like BT it’s a massive task to keep our homes and businesses safe from cyber threats, and it’s really no surprise that the security market is worth an estimated $90 billion given the amount of work that is involved.

To find out more about this crucial sector, we visited BT’s Security Operations Centre in Sevenoaks, Kent, where we spoke with Mark Hughes, CEO of BT Security and David Ferbrache, Technical Director of Cyber Security at professional services company KPMG.

[Read more: How to prevent ransomware and what to do if you are affected]

BT is one of the largest data processors in the world

A large network like BT’s requires round-the-clock monitoring. To do this, some 3,000 people across the globe look after BT security – and not all are based in the UK.

Teams of security staff operate from Brazil right through to Australia. The UK hub is located in Sevenoaks but there are many others scattered throughout the country.

 

Collaboration is key in fighting cyber crime

Information sharing is an essential component to tackling cyber threats.

BT Security head Mark Hughes says he frequently catches up with counterparts in other countries, such as those at US network AT&T.

 

Many companies fall prey to cyber-attacks because they are in denial

In a joint whitepaper produced by BT and KPMG, research found that businesses fall prey to cyberattacks because many are in denial, believing that cyberattacks aren’t an issue for them or that it’s a lot of hype that affects large companies.

Others are simply overwhelmed by the scale of threats that are out there and don’t know how to compute effectively what they could be at risk from.

And even of those who do take the necessary steps, not all are fully aware of what they’re getting out of it, which leads to a false sense of confidence.

“It’s odd, because you’d think with the amount of media coverage we won’t still catch this, but I still get an awful number of clients where the response you get is, ‘Well, we’re not being targeted – why should we care?’” David Ferbrache, Technical Director of Cyber Security at KPMG explained.

 

You don’t need to be good at mathematics to work in cyber security

BT hires a number of young apprentices from a range of different backgrounds within its Security division, but some positions are more surprising than others.

Most people would expect a background in maths or IT with cyber security but the department also includes psychologists to better understand how the mind of a hacker works.

 

TV channels are attacked more than you realise

Let’s not forget that cyberattacks stem further than computer screens, what we see on TV is open to attack too – even BT Sport.

“We get a lot attempts all day every day [for broadcast sporting events],” Hughes revealed. “There is often the ‘hacktivist’ approach, those who think ‘It’s a big target, let’s have a go at it’.”

Thankfully no one has managed to interrupt our favourite shows yet.

 

Speed is everything when reacting to cyber attacks

Response times are crucial in dealing with cyberattacks, leaving BT’s security team minutes and even milliseconds to get on the case.

“The scale of the operation we have, we are responding in very, very small amounts of time.”

He added: “My biggest concern is that we get better at being able to remediate at the rate that this kind of stuff can be exploited.

“It’s not surprising that something like WannaCry exists because the people developing it are looking for ever more sophisticated ways to spread this stuff, so therefore we have to be ever better at being able to respond.”

Read more: What is ransomware? 5 key questions about the NHS cyber hack answered