Hackers are hunting ‘whales’ in the boardroom. They attack, steal and ruin reputations. Are you the whale they’re looking for? Could you stop them?
Board level executives are known as ‘whales’ amongst hackers. That’s because they’re the big fish who hold the keys to the really big prizes: money, intellectual property and commercially sensitive information. Jim Baines, CEO of a major US packaging company, didn’t know he was a ‘whale’ until someone hacked his email and got into the heart of his company.
"Whaling for Beginners" follows Jim’s journey as he realizes just how close to home cyber-attacks can strike and how broad the hackers’ ambitions are. As his company’s very survival hangs in the balance, it emerges that the ultimate target of the whaling attack is the CFO of his biggest client – and one of his oldest friends.
Out of nowhere, hard-won reputations, hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars are all suddenly at risk.
"Whaling for Beginners" is not only a wake-up call for leading executives everywhere, it is a gripping and fascinating read in its own right.
Hackers don’t just steal information and money - they destroy reputations too. In a few keystrokes long shadows can fall across careers and organizations. Do you know how vulnerable you are? How would you respond?
In Book One we learned how Jim Baines, CEO of a major US packaging company, made a simple mistake and discovered that he was a ‘whale’ - a high value target for hackers looking to profit from the corporate chaos they can cause.
It turned out that he was just bait for even bigger prizes - including his old friend, Hannah Simmons, CFO of a huge multinational. Now, with Hannah’s career in meltdown, Jim facing the loss of the business it took him years to build and media speculation growing, an investigative journalist closes in on them, sensing the biggest exclusive of her career.
Meanwhile in London, a brilliant young hacker prepares to deepen the attack. But who is he working for and what is their ultimate objective?
It’s a nightmare that’s becoming all too common in boardrooms around the world.
In Books One and Two we learned how Jim Baines, CEO of a major US packaging company, made a simple mistake and discovered that he was a ‘whale’ – a high value target for hackers looking to profit from the corporate chaos they can cause. Worse, he was just the bait for even bigger prizes: his clients, including his old friend Hannah Simmons, CFO of a huge multinational.
As Hannah is forced to resign and the attack spreads from the digital world into the physical, Jim, facing the loss of the business it took him years to build, decides to go public with his story. Meanwhile Taryn Lowell, his irreverent young Network Manager, teams up with veteran cyber security consultant Domenic Rizzo to try and contain the damage and track down the source of the breach.
In London, Hannah picks up the trail of an old friend who may be implicated in the attack, whilst Ercan, the gifted hacker responsible for carrying it out, questions his motives as the powers who commissioned him start to come a little too close to home.
As the scale of the attack grows ever wider, the stakes are getting higher and more dangerous for everyone involved.
“I would recommend ‘Whaling for Beginners’ as essential reading for all board directors. As a Senior Independent NED and Deputy Chairman I know how important it is for business leaders to understand that they’re not immune and that they understand how to respond effectively in a crisis. I have sent copies of the book to all my fellow directors on five different boards."
Ian Davies, Deputy Chairman of BMT Group and Senior Independent Director at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Harvey Nash.
“Knowing my background in cyber security and IT risk, I was recently given ‘Whaling for Beginners’ by a close friend... In a world of cyber techno jargon often presented without relevant context to board members and senior management, the story line is not only plausible but actually fun to follow, helping the reader realize in a very relatable way that none of us are immune to being directly targeted by a cyber-attack... If you’re a board director or executive decision maker, I would encourage you to have a look."
Jan Babiak is a non-executive director with a 30-year career in cybersecurity and IT risk management. She is a frequent panellist and speaker on board governance.
“I hate to think how many worthy presentations I've sat through on cyber risk management, so my first reaction on reading these books was "at last!". Instead of a technical tract heavy on acronyms and terms of art, here's a very realistic human story, showing how cyber-attacks usually work because of human frailty and how their effects can destroy reputations and trust painstakingly built up over many years.
"This is an essential lesson for Boards, so often bedazzled by the apparently impenetrable specialist technical nature of cyber. Directors need to understand that while they will need some specialist advice (just as they do over legal or tax matters, for example), they need to see cyber risk as an integral part of their general enterprise risk management process.
"We need much more of this accessible, realistic approach. Ditch the jargon and the mystery, and show how we can all safely get the most out of the fantastic opportunities which the digital world offers us. Well done to AXELOS for showing us the way!”
Richard Knowlton, Chairman of Richard Knowlton Associates and former Vodafone Group Director of Corporate Security
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