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  • Caspar James - Tech Journalist

The 2021 McLaren Team launch was kept secure using Darktrace's Cyber AI

As with any start to the F1 season, the team launch is critical and it's the time to showcase the latest technology and innovation that has been a closely guarded secret up until the launch. The teams mindset changes from preparation stage, behind closed doors, to race-ready stage and all the hard work needs to fall into place as smoothly as possible. A smooth transition then sets the tone for the rest of the race season. For the 2021 season, it was McLaren's first launch delivered virtually and there were potentially a few extra considerations and security risks to consider. This is where one of McLaren's official team sponsors had the answer.

Darktrace is McLaren's Official AI Cyber Security Partner. McLaren's lifeblood is technology innovation, from design and production, to telemetry, analysis, team communication and collaboration. The whole process needs to be uninterrupted and any cyber security has to work seamlessly so as to not slow down the progress of new technologies or disrupt how the team members work together. Darktrace's AI continually learns what's 'normal' within McLaren's digital environment, to detect and respond to cyber-threats targeting its data. The AI is self-learning and updates its understanding around the clock, identifying threats and taking action as soon as it spots any malicious activity within McLaren's digital environment.

Darktrace's AI learns on-the-job how to detect and respond to any cyber threats in real time. This AI blends seamlessly with McLaren's fast paced innovation and Darktrace's AI is a class-leading solution to Cyber AI as it's completely scaleable to any business and can handle all levels of change and complexity as an organisation evolves.

The AI works in all sorts of digital environments, from email, network tariff data, and in the case of the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC), right up to trackside data; covering SaaS applications and cloud services, so wherever the IP resides, Cyber AI is there also, protecting in the background. As fast paced as McLaren is, Darktrace can easily keep pace with any high-speed data transfers, whether trackside or from inside the MTC.

If a cyber threat is detected, Cyber AI quickly contains the threat at an early stage, with computer speed-attacks such as ransomware continuing to rise. Darktrace AI swiftly eliminates any threat and that gives any security team time to catch up.

At McLaren, Cyber AI allows the IT teams to focus their time on higher-level strategic work, ensuring that the 2021 team launch had the same impact and drama as any other year. In the week leading up to launch, McLaren created over one terabyte of data, almost equal to the amount of data each car produces over a weekend on the track. This data represents design work, renders, photography, information and other assets.

Data had always come from within MTC, but in 2021, with staff working from home, the data needed to securely move from home office to home office, both within MTC between different employees and departments and externally to suppliers and partners of McLaren, and Darktrace's Cyber AI made this all possible with its SaaS applications covering Dropbox, Box, WeTransfer, Microsoft 365 stack, including OneDrive and SharePoint. This has allowed remote working for MTC staff to become the norm.

As the 2021 launch day approached, every new F1 car at McLaren is unveiled internally first before the public gets to see it. There's a lot of secrecy, as it the first time the staff at McLaren get to see a finished car and F1 is a sport where other F1 teams can take a lot of inspiration from each other, so keeping a car 'under-wraps' is strategically important and the car's design and other sensitive information must not be leaked ahead of time.

In a normal physical pre-season launch, security measures are put in place, so no phones or cameras and security guards on site. For the 2021 virtual launch, new measures were needed and Darktrace's AI was monitoring email activity for any suspicious activity, meaning that launch day could go ahead without the risk of data being breached externally, until it was time to broadcast to the world the launch of the new F1 car for the 2021 season. Darktrace's Cyber AI taking away the worry, as it acts like a data sentry, protecting its host.





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