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Cyber Security Lessons from Formula 1

Updated: Apr 6, 2023



I have always felt that we have as much to gain from looking at how other industries operate as we do from looking within the bubble of our own. When we look within the bubble it's easy to just follow the same path as everyone else. Even if this means doing it better than the competition it doesn't necessarily mean doing it differently which can be 10x better.

There are many examples of this. One example is the founders of Air B'nB who did not have a hospitality background. So they looked at the industry through a new lens from those already operating in the hospitality bubble.

"...doing it differently which can be 10x better"

So with this in mind I'm writing a series of Lessons from a variety of pursuits, activities or industries for the world of Cyber Security. Of course inevitably there will be many similarities in lesson topics across these however the value is not just in the difference. It is also in how they approach addressing these topics and the challenges they each address.

So for Lesson 1, with the Formula 1 being in Melbourne at this time of year and also being a personal passion let's look at Cyber Security lessons from Formula 1.


Six lessons from Formula 1 for Cyber Security


There are several lessons that the world of Cyber Security can learn from Formula 1:


1.Importance of Preparation

Just like a Formula 1 team prepares their car for a race, Cyber Security teams need to prepare their networks and systems for potential cyber threats. This includes regular maintenance, software updates, and security audits. There are many elements to preparation. These include building a robust car (Cyber Security Tools). Ensuring that the pit crew and driver are able to perform at their optimum when it matters. This translates to the Cyber Security Team.


2. Need for Constant Vigilance

Formula 1 drivers need to be constantly aware of their surroundings and react quickly to changing conditions on the track. Similarly, Cyber Security teams need to be constantly vigilant of potential threats and react quickly to protect their networks and data. In Formula one this awareness runs across internal elements such as the car and the driver. As well as external elements such the other teams, the track condition and weather. In Cyber Security this relates to the team capability, the tools available as well as the constantly evolving threat landscape.



3. Importance of Collaboration

Formula 1 teams rely on collaboration between drivers, engineers, and pit crews to achieve success. Similarly, Cyber Security teams need to collaborate between different departments and stakeholders to ensure the security of their networks and data. Effective collaboration relies largely on common purpose and measuring the success of this. In alot of ways this is easier to achieve in a Formula 1 team as success is measured by championship points and all purpose is focused on that outcome. One of the challenges in Cyber Security is that while it is easy for the Cyber Security Team to be clear in it's goals of preventing a breach. Other parts of the organisation will have differing goals that are sometimes in conflict with the Cyber Security Team. Such as growing the business which requires easier interaction with customers or growing staff numbers which requires easier staff onboarding and sharing of data.

"Formula 1 teams gather and analyse extreme volumes of data and analyse this in real time."

4. The Value of Data

In Formula 1, data is collected and analyzed to improve performance and gain a competitive advantage. Similarly, Cyber Security teams can use data analysis to detect and prevent cyber threats. There are significant similarities here. Formula 1 teams gather and analyse extreme volumes of data and analyse this in real time. Immediately using the information learned to adjust tactics and strategies. Even the least resourced Formula 1 team would do this better than the majority of business organisations.


5. Need for Risk Management

Formula 1 teams assess and manage risks in real time during a race to ensure the safety of drivers and spectators in addition to ensuring they optimise performance and do not risk finishing the race early. They have acceptable risk thresholds. The line between optimum performance and race ending failure can be very fine. Similarly, Cyber Security teams need to assess and manage risks to protect their organisations. This is where collaboration also comes in as some of these decisions regarding acceptable risk must be made by the business as a whole. Because they can relate to operational efficiency, budget and many other factors.



Ferrari F1 pit crew doing tyre change training (Melbourne 2019)


6. Importance of Training

Formula 1 drivers undergo extensive training to improve their skills and abilities. This training is done at every level. Drivers practice every track hundreds of times in simulators. Pit crews practice tyre and front wing changes and strategist practice their decision making using what-if scenario simulations. Similarly, Cyber Security professionals need to undergo regular training to stay up-to-date with the latest threats and security practices. Equally organisations as a whole should undertake crisis simulations. These simulations incorporate board, execs, legal, PR etc. Just as would be the situation in case of a real world crisis.


Overall, the world of Cyber Security can benefit from the lessons learned in Formula 1, including the importance of preparation, constant vigilance, collaboration, data analysis, risk management, and training. These lessons can help organizations improve their Cyber Security posture and better protect their organisations as a whole.


If you haven't already please subscribe for further insights from Quigly Cyber and share it with a friend. The next lesson for Cyber Security will be from another passion of mine in Mountain Biking.


Written by Mark Williams - Founder - www.quigly.com.au

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