Natural History Museum IT sinks its teeth into security alert overload

Despite limited security resources, the Natural History Museum’s two-person IT security team has found a way to better triage alerts.

The Natural History Museum is a prime example of a large public sector organisation that faces a vast array of cybersecurity challenges with a significantly smaller security team and budget compared to those in the private sector. Astute investment that optimises cybersecurity processes therefore takes on huge significance for the museum’s two-man IT security team, led by Chris Sleep.

World renowned for its enormous collections including fossils, artifacts, and preserved specimens, the Natural History Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK, attracting millions of visitors every year (the COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding). Whilst it is very much less synonymous with issues of cybersecurity, Sleep tells CSO how, until recently, the museum was facing a deluge of alerts from disparate security tools, displayed independently, without intelligence that correlated and joined up data across screens. This was compounding the diverse, complex cybersecurity challenges the museum is regularly exposed to.

Natural History Museum’s cybersecurity challenges

“When people look at us as an organisation, the public face you see is the fantastic building and collections, but around a third of our staff are scientists and research scientists,” says Sleep. “They are generating vast amounts of research data, digitising specimens and moving terabytes up to petabytes of data around—that side of things generates just as much of a security challenge as the public-facing issues.”

nhm image 2 Natural History Museum

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