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Did you know you were a whale?

Blog posted by: Nick Wilding, AXELOS Head of Cyber Resilience, 03 February 2017.

Did you know you were a whale?

Board directors, business leaders and entrepreneurs are known as ‘whales’. You’re the big fish who holds the key to the really big prize for hackers. Whether that’s intellectual property, commercially and market sensitive information or simply money, there are hackers out there right now, planning to harpoon some of you.

“You’re the big fish who holds the key for hackers.”

Nick WildingAlmost every week there’s a major news story about another well-known company that’s been caught off-guard by hackers. Allianz’s Global Risk Barometer outlines the Top Business Risks in 2017 as seen through the eyes of over 1,000 organizations in over 50 countries. Cyber incidents are number 3 on the list. It’s a risk that is not going away.

Organizations are under increasing pressure to understand and respond to the cyber risks they face. Sadly, many boardrooms and senior executives continue to struggle to do this effectively. It’s also a complex risk that can have catastrophic impacts on hard won reputations, competitive advantage and market value. As Warren Buffet said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

So how can we help the boardroom ‘lift the lid’ on one of the greatest and most relentless risks they face? One innovative way is through storytelling. Stories spark emotions. Stories help to explain the complex and the confusing in new, insightful ways. They can help make people care. Stories have the power to communicate consequences and relevance to audiences. They can be shared and help to inspire… and critically they can help change behaviours.

“Inspired by real-life events, ‘Whaling for Beginners’ is a dramatic short story that follows the CEO of a US packaging firm.”

Inspired by real-life events ‘Whaling for Beginners’ is a dramatic short story that follows Jim Baines, the CEO of a US packaging firm, who realizes just how close to home cyber-attacks can strike. Out of nowhere the future of his firm is suddenly hanging in the balance. ‘Whaling for Beginners’ follows Jim’s journey as he realizes no-one is immune from being targeted. It’s a wake-up call for leading executives everywhere.

If you would like to receive a free copy of ‘Whaling for Beginners’ please contact me at

Here’s what just a few readers like you made of our story:

“This is an essential lesson for Boards… We need much more of this accessible, realistic approach.”
Richard Knowlton, Chairman of Richard Knowlton Associates and former Vodafone Group Director of Corporate Security

"The Whaling for Beginners saga is a compelling insight into the human impact of a cyber-attack on a CEO of a successful business. 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 Harvey Nash

“Wow, what a read... Having been engaged in managing cyber incidents I believe Jim's experience is thought provoking and chillingly realistic in every way. Executives around the world should read this and I guarantee you will not put it down.”
Barrie Millett, former Head of Resilience, E.ON.UK

See our RESILIA section and our Whaling for Beginners page for more information about cyber resilience.

Read more AXELOS Blog Posts from Nick Wilding

Cyber resilience: How important is your reputation? How effective are your people?

21st century cyber awareness for a 21st century threat

A cyber resilience Q&A with Karoliina Ainge, head of Estonian cyber security policy - Part 2

A cyber resilience Q&A with Karoliina Ainge, head of Estonian cyber security policy - Part 1

Cyber Resilience: it’s all about behaviours - Digital Leaders Conference presentation

Cyber Resilience: it’s all about behaviour, not bits and bytes

Cyber Resilience: We need to TalkTalk

Cyber Resilience: developing a new language for all

Looking for Business Leaders in the Cyber Resilience Race


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