Seconds Out: KPMG Directors Duke It Out Over the Internet of Things at This Month’s RANT Forum

In Common ByAngus Batey / 23rd July 2014

When it comes to being pointed and provocative, we like to think the RANT Forum is second to none. Where else in the often stuffy world of information security are you invited to debate the subject’s often arcane discussion points by shouting in a crowded room while nursing a pint? It’s the Forum’s lack of formality that gets the to-and-fro going, and it’s the lack of strait-laced rules (though, of course, without the absence of common sense and good manners that sets us apart from a punch-up in a car park) that makes it what it is.

So it will come as no surprise to find that, for this month’s event, RANT has flipped the script on its regular attendees. Rather than inviting a single speaker into our friendly if vigorous swirl of animated discourse, we’ve got two people coming along this month who are going to argue with each other for our collective entertainment and education. It’s going to be a bit like a boxing match, only with the blood and the sweat and the bruises replaced by verbal point-scoring. They’re even bringing their own referee.

Our speakers are KPMG Directors Wil Rockall and Richard Krishnan, who are part of the professional giant’s Cyber Security division. The subject they’re going to be arguing over is the so-called Internet of Things. Wil believes that the networking of hitherto unconnected domestic appliances and household systems is going to change our lives for the better. Richard disagrees – strongly. So strongly that Simon Griffiths, head of the company’s Thought Leadership programme, is going to be on hand too – to introduce his colleagues, but also, we suspect, to separate them before things get too messy, and maybe to raise one gloved fist at the end of the night, should the bout reach a definitive conclusion.

“I believe the Internet of Things represents the best opportunity to increase longevity, improve productivity and drive economic growth since the Industrial Revolution,” says Wil. “The medical profession will have access to broader and richer datasets, and comparative studies on therapies will be built into treatments. For businesses, it will help them manage supply chains better and so improve profitability, therefore driving economic growth.”

What’s not to like? Pretty much everything, says the man in the opposite corner.

“The problem with the Internet of Things is the stealth with which it is increasingly infiltrating people’s lives,” Richard argues. “At the moment, going online is a conscious choice. But in a world where technology enables day-to-day living, we will all be subject to the internet whether we like it – or know it – or not. I believe the Internet of Things is basically being driven by big business in pursuit of greater profits. The risks can be mitigated but they can never be safeguarded completely – it’s impossible.”

What’s interesting – perhaps even mouth-watering – from a regular RANTer’s perspective is that these two don’t seem likely to reach a friendly accommodation. Rather, they’re presenting this as a battle of good versus evil. To paraphrase that great infosec scholar Harry Hill, I wonder which is better? There’s only one way to find out…

Come and watch the cyber-security blood dripping onto the virtual canvas in our bearpi… I mean our regular home of convivial and scholarly debate, The Counting House, at 50 Cornhill, London, EC3V 3PD, on Wednesday (July 30). Doors open at 5:30, the bell rings for the headline bout at 6:30, and there’ll be the usual supporting undercard of comestibles afterwards. Places are, as always, in short supply, and although admission is free, you need to book in advance. Please contact Thomas Odams on┬átodams@ranforum.com or 0207 510 9039 to book.