CYBER experts visiting Northern Ireland have outlined their work to help the nation thrive in the digital age – but warned of the challenges that lie ahead.
Delegates from the UK Government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) delivered a lecture at Queen’s University yesterday (19 October) and addressed senior civil servants in Belfast today (20 October).
The UK Government is fully committed to defending against digital threats and set up the NCSC last year through the five-year National Cyber Security Strategy, supported through £1.9 billion transformative investment.
The organisation works in a transparent manner and relies on good relationships with industry and government partners. In its first year, the NCSC managed 590 significant cyber incidents across the UK and has prevented tens of millions of attacks through pioneering Active Cyber Defence measures
NCSC CEO Ciaran Martin said:
“For too long, cyber security has been shrouded in mystique and fear - that’s not helpful. The most important thing leaders of organisations can do is to stop being afraid of the problem and try to understand it instead. Put simply, attacks are about return on investment, and cyber defence is about risk management and harm reduction.
“Digital attacks are a real risk to economic wellbeing in Northern Ireland and its citizens. They can cause widespread disruption to individuals, companies and public services.
"There's some great work going on around Northern Ireland, for example at Queen's, and we need strong partners across the whole of Northern Ireland society to combat the threat.”
The NCSC Chief Executive delivered the keynote speech at the KPMG Lecture Series in Belfast on Thursday 19 October, during which he spoke about the NCSC’s commitment to Northern Ireland, the organisation’s strategy and the changing nature of the threat.
He then discussed cyber security with the Permanent Secretaries Stocktake in Stormont Castle on Friday 20 October, welcoming an open discussion that included partnership work, nurturing talent and incident management at a local level.
Professor Nola Hewitt-Dundas, Head of Queen’s Management School, said:
“Cyber security threats are fast becoming a major global and national issue for all organisations and businesses.
“This annual lecture series is one way that the Management School is working in partnership with KPMG to equip businesses to respond to serious technological challenges.
“We were delighted to welcome Mr Ciaran Martin, to deliver this year’s Queen’s Management School and Chief Executives’ Club Annual KPMG Lecture on this important topic of cyber security.”
Alison Whitney, NCSC Deputy Director for Digital Government, said:
“To mitigate and defend against cyber threats it’s vital that we have good relationships with public sector and business partners in Northern Ireland.
“As the lead technical authority on cyber, the NCSC actively promotes a culture where science and technology can thrive.
“We will do everything we can to support initiatives to build cyber security awareness in Northern Ireland, as well as sharing good cyber security practices.”
The full speech at Queen’s University can be read at www.ncsc.gov.uk.
The NCSC manages national cyber security incidents, carries out real-time threat analysis and provides tailored sectoral advice.
Incidents will still happen, and when they do the NCSC website offers advice and information, including support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for incidents that need that level of engagement.