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Insights Can cyber be green? The challenge no one is talking about.

In the rapidly evolving fields of cybersecurity and sustainability, two unique paths converge to form the backbone of AtkinsRéalis' innovative Green Cyber initiative. Senior Cyber Security Consultant Natalie and Cyber Consultant Jonathan bring their diverse backgrounds in chemical and mechanical engineering, respectively, to pioneer a program that marries cybersecurity with environmental consciousness. This blog explores their journey, the challenges they've faced, and the shared vision that drives them forward.

Natalie's sustainable cybersecurity vision

Photo of Natalie smiling towards the camera

"My journey into cybersecurity was unconventional," Natalie begins. "With a background in chemical engineering, I initially focused on processing fossil fuels and renewable alternatives. However, I discovered a passion for driving changes and improvements in how we do things. This passion led me to the cybersecurity team at AtkinsRéalis.”

Natalie emphasizes the importance of transferable skills and a multidisciplinary approach: "Understanding the intricacies of sustainable technologies and securing them against cyber threats requires a broad skill set. My work is about finding synergies between cybersecurity processes and sustainability goals."

Jonathan's engineering approach to cybersecurity

Photo of Jonathan smiling towards the camera

Jonathan's transition from mechanical engineering to cybersecurity presented a unique opportunity to apply engineering principles to digital systems. "Analyzing the security of digital systems requires a holistic view, similar to understanding complex mechanical systems," he explains. "My work in Operational Technology (OT) cybersecurity, especially in critical sectors, benefits immensely from this perspective.”

He adds, "The overlap between mechanical engineering and cybersecurity is most evident in OT cybersecurity. My appreciation for the engineering behind physical processes has been crucial in ensuring they remain secure against cyber threats."

Bridging security and sustainability

The Green Cyber initiative was born out of a shared recognition of the dual challenges posed by cyber threats and climate change. "We wanted to create a program that acknowledges the intersection of cybersecurity and sustainability," Natalie states. "It's about optimizing both security and environmental benefits, minimizing any negative impacts.”

Jonathan reflects on the initiative's goals: "Our focus is on identifying where security and sustainability align and where they conflict. We aim to equip cybersecurity professionals with the knowledge to make informed decisions that serve both agendas."

Key challenges and solutions

Balancing cybersecurity with environmental sustainability presents unique challenges. Natalie points out, "We often find that cybersecurity best practices can require additional resources, which may not always align with sustainability goals.”

Jonathan adds, "However, there are areas of alignment, such as reducing system inefficiencies and increasing the transparency of business supply chains, which can benefit both security and sustainability. It's about making conscious decisions that consider both aspects."

What does tomorrow hold?

Looking ahead, Natalie and Jonathan are optimistic about cybersecurity's role in supporting sustainable technologies. "Cybersecurity must be integrated early into developing green technologies," Jonathan emphasizes. "It's essential for the success of transportation, energy generation, and carbon capture initiatives.”

Natalie concludes, "We hope that by encouraging a dialogue about sustainability in cybersecurity, we can inspire innovation and progress. It's about creating a future where technology serves both our security needs and our environmental responsibilities."

Advice for aspiring professionals

Natalie and Jonathan offer sage advice for those looking to blend sustainability into their cybersecurity careers. "Attend events and engage with discussions on the sustainability of security technologies," suggests Natalie. "Understanding the broader impact of your work is crucial.”

Jonathan advises, "Focus on the common challenges of security and sustainability. Fostering cross-disciplinary interests will not only enrich your career but also ensure you're contributing meaningfully to the challenges of the coming decades."

Shaping a sustainable cyber future

Natalie and Jonathan's collaboration through the Green Cyber initiative at AtkinsRéalis exemplifies the power of diverse thinking in tackling the world's most pressing challenges. By bringing together their engineering, cybersecurity, and sustainability expertise, they are pioneering solutions that promise a more secure and sustainable future. The more we discuss and integrate sustainability into cybersecurity careers, the greater the innovation and progress we'll see. Natalie and Jonathan's work is just the beginning.

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