Vivida was in no way intended to be a cyber safety business really, states founder Simeon Quarrie. A storyteller at coronary heart, Quarrie launched and built his younger virtual truth (VR) scaleup with the goal of employing interactivity to modify organization cultures.

He saw some early good results making situations that put workers in circumstances that are extremely hard to replicate in reality, these as escaping a burning constructing for fireplace safety education, or getting set in the footwear of a black guy in a company natural environment for variety instruction.

“I wasn’t born into it, right?” he claims. “If I’m entirely sincere, the issue of cyber safety did not signify that substantially to me – until eventually my business enterprise bank account was emptied one particular day. I experienced some income in it, which was terrific, and then it wasn’t there.

“At that second, I was considering to myself: how did this come about, what was the motivation for executing it, what have been the procedures that have been utilised?”

Quarrie arrived to the realisation that though safety was a issue that experienced not meant a great deal to him just before, it was a single with which Vivida’s current organization shared some frequent ground in terms of improving upon organization resilience as a result of education.

He describes what he does as using storytelling and innovation to reframe a topic and switch something mundane, or even dry, into a matter that people today do care about. He credits his very own encounters as a schoolboy who struggled with subjects that did not resonate right until the right instructor came alongside.

“When folks have been able to take subjects and mix them with a story, then all of a sudden they became easy to understand and they grew to become critical to me,” he suggests. “And which is essentially the method that we get.”

Like VR had performed for wellbeing and safety or range instruction, Quarrie plainly comprehended that the technology could provide to truly bring factors alive and make the concept stand out from the mass of PowerPoint and clip artwork-primarily based training nevertheless favoured by many protection leaders. At finest, these are soul-crushingly uninteresting, and at worst, utterly ineffective and, in some scenarios, could even maximize hazard mainly because they are such a change-off.

Day with a cyber legal

Vivida developed its 1st piece of VR safety schooling in collaboration with media giant Sky. In the encounter – explained as likely on a date with a cyber prison – trainees arrive deal with-to-encounter with a virtual malicious actor that they start off to have interaction with. As the day goes on, the legal starts to break down their methodology, and their identification, as you go deeper into their entire world.

“We briefly saturate, or hijack, the human senses,” claims Quarrie. “We’re equipped to utilise approximately all of them with that story. It was seriously effective, and seeing the reaction to it was terrific.”

A next engagement with Barclays saw the creation – recreation, instead – of the banking group’s protection functions centre (SOC) in which trainees were put to triage a breaking cyber safety incident, and in the end get factors again underneath manage. Another engagement observed the staff construct a dim world wide web mission handle centre, in which trainees participate in the component of undercover “agents” infiltrating and disrupting a cyber criminal team.

“We ended up pondering to ourselves: do we build anything that is based on real existence?” states Quarrie. “But then we had been like, properly in fact, because it’s VR, let us give folks an journey – let us send them to an environment so unforgettable that they’ve not knowledgeable ahead of.”

“Let’s give people an journey – let us mail them to an setting so memorable that they’ve not seasoned before”

Simeon Quarrie, Vivida

According to Quarrie, this variety of workout is a lot more successful at imprinting why stability issues on trainees, so that even if they are subsequently forced to sit as a result of a awful PowerPoint compliance physical exercise, the issue then appears to be far more quick.

This tactic also appears to adhere, as perfectly – a perennial concern with conventional protection teaching, which tends to dribble out of your mind right after a several weeks, leaving your employer in the identical location they begun. Not an situation right here, claims Quarrie.

“Having spoken to some folks, in some cases a 12 months right after they’ve absent by that practical experience, they are nevertheless chatting about it simply because it is so memorable,” he says.

“What we did with the expertise is in fact support visualise the other aspect [ie a cyber criminal’s point of view] and clearly show what’s behind the phishing email, what is going on, let us meet up with the individuals and understand their determination.

“As a consequence, when you go by way of day to day functioning everyday living you now have a psychological hook that you mechanically reference to.”

Pandemic pivot

Then, in January and February 2020, news started to filter out of China of a novel, quickly-spreading pressure of coronavirus. By March, SARS-Cov-2, and the sickness it leads to, Covid-19, had come to be a whole-blown world-wide emergency, and on 23 March, the Uk entered a full lockdown to consist of its distribute.

The changeover to distant performing was a trouble for Vivida, as rather plainly, VR is quite a great deal a presence-centered technologies. “If I’m honest, we practically shouldn’t be in this article any a lot more, because we’re doing the job with a technologies that is practically a get in touch with sport,” claims Quarrie. “The brilliant matter about VR is that you have folks in the room and you’ve all bought headsets on.

“Now, we will get again to applying that technological innovation in the fullest potential, but what we wanted to do incredibly quickly was comprehend how the world had transformed and what organisations were heading to be battling with – basically, how do we get across details on their cell equipment and laptops?”

Even more importantly, this necessary to be done in a way that did not add to the pressure and concern that people today are emotion living by way of a crisis that is unparalleled in living memory. Soon after all, a lot of cyber safety could be termed pretty terrifying things, and relocating it outside of the confines of the corporate network, in which most men and women imagine of cyber danger as anyone else’s challenge (ie the IT department’s), to their kitchen area tables or spare bedrooms demonstrates that house is not a safe and sound place either.

“We’re acquiring to deal with balancing people’s psychological wellness, so we understood we essential to get these factors throughout to people today in a way that they love, but that is nevertheless impactful and unforgettable,” claims Quarrie.

The huge obstacle in this work out has been developing a sense of immersion in the narrative, this kind of as you may well feel in a VR plan.

“It can be completed in a pair of methods,” states Quarrie. “One is you can be immersive with the content so that you get drawn in, and which is the place the framework and science of storytelling occur in. The other way is as a result of the know-how and becoming able to have interactions in the environment.”

How one scaleup pivoted to cyber

Quarrie and his team addressed this by making use of the same tried out-and-tested elements they utilised in their VR packages – storytelling, gamification and a sprinkling of humour. They developed a Star Trek-fashion “holodeck” schooling simulator that loads various eventualities for trainees. A single of these (pictured earlier mentioned), is a property office setup to investigate the novel threats of distant doing the job throughout the pandemic. An additional is a phishing simulator.

They are available to shopper consumers not on a proprietary system owned by Vivida, but by means of the customer’s chosen understanding program, and the hope is they will be just as partaking as the VR iteration.

“One of the most difficult issues for organisations to do is to get men and women engaged with written content,” says Quarrie. “I imagine when you’re in a corporate ecosystem, there is a particular ethos that signifies you may possibly be much more accepting of dry written content. But when you are at home and you have received Netflix, you’ve got your PlayStation, all of a sudden you count on the typical to resonate with that dwelling natural environment, and that is fundamentally what we’re now striving to do.”

Collaboration and assist

During the class of 2020, Vivida has been supported throughout its advancement and pivot by the London Business of Fast Cybersecurity Development (Lorca), a expert safety scaleup incubator, graduates of which have secured millions in funding over the previous several many years.

Young companies going by Lorca’s 12-thirty day period programme, which is at this time operating with its fifth cohort of 17 businesses, get accessibility to innovation and commercialisation consultancy, item enhancement services and field obtain, as perfectly as partners together with Queen’s College Belfast’s Centre for Protected Facts Technologies (CSIT) and Deloitte.

It was a colleague who to start with brought the plan to Quarrie’s interest, but at to start with, he suggests, scepticism kicked in. Would they want a share of the business enterprise? What was at the rear of it? What were their motives?

“As a black entrepreneur, just one of the matters I have viewed is you struggle at times to gain access to the appropriate destinations, the appropriate rooms, you are not even at times informed of some of the rooms that exist, or some of the knowledge that’s there that you can tap into,” he says.

“Culturally, I was introduced up with a feeling that actually no one’s there to aid you. You require to just graft, and you want to operate at it.”

Quarrie fulfilled with Lorca in any case, which put him in contact with one of his early clientele, Lloyds Banking Group, for whom he developed 1 of his primary situations as a evidence of idea exercising. Vivida finished up being invited to join what was then Lorca’s forthcoming fourth cohort.

“I realised that, no, really, these individuals are right here to support me,” he suggests. “And that, for me personally, was a large intellect shift. It has really been helpful.

“Before, anything was centered on the technology, but now we’ve also acquired an eye on scale and scalability and remaining equipped to get our material out there, and when the pandemic strike, to be in the middle of the programme and able to also pull on these resources like Deloitte, to get their insights, as we were likely through that, was amazing.”

Reflecting on his journey into the world of cyber security, Quarrie says he has been particularly struck by the collaborative character of the sector. By its nature, he states, Vivida is a collaborative organisation by itself – its coaching situations have been formulated doing work along with every client, to a certain short.

“That’s why I’ve got some passion for these brand names that we’ve worked with because just about every 1 of them has contributed to our journey, and in some way they’ve left this reward powering that allows us to keep rising and permits us to profit other men and women,” he states.

“That’s what I have liked about the cyber stability field. It doesn’t come to feel like there are rivals. It feels like everyone’s transferring jointly to work out how to overcome these prevalent threats. I’ve really loved that. I’ve hardly ever moved into a new business sector and been welcomed so warmly.”

Vivida’s on line instruction platform was introduced in September 2020, and interested functions can sign up for a comprehensive demo on the web.



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