2 Years Building Ireland’s Cyber Security Community

Paul Walsh

By Paul Walsh, Cyber Ireland’s Chairperson
As we come to the 2nd anniversary since the launch of Cyber Ireland, it is my pleasure to update you on another very busy and productive year. While Covid-19 has been the major headline grabber over the past 15 months, Cyber Security has also been front page news. The ransomware attacks on the HSE and the Colonial pipeline in the US have highlighted to the general public the risk we all face on a daily basis. The HSE attack preys on the sick and vulnerable members of our society, highlighting the callous nature of these criminals and the critical role the Cyber Security industry plays in protecting our communities. It is great to see so many of our member companies step forward and offer their considerable expertise in these challenging times.

Building the community is one of our key pillars and the successful launch of 3 new regional chapters in the South, West (in collaboration with ITAG) & North-West has broadened our scope, with an East Chapter to come. They provide an important link between our national activities and regional members through regular meet-ups for the Cyber Security community in each area. They have covered a range of topics from Cyber Start-ups & Scale-ups to monthly Threat Intel Sessions to PSIRT focused events. I would like to thank the respective chapter teams for their leadership, feedback & enthusiasm.

The Cyber Ireland Skills Report published in February provided a fascinating insight into the skills gaps in our industry and generated plenty of interest. These key findings confirm what many of us were experiencing and highlight the opportunity and challenges facing our industry.

  • 62% of companies will hire in 2021
  • Our cyber workforce is highly skilled
  • 48% of organisations have open or unfilled cyber security roles
  • 46% of cyber security teams are understaffed
  • 19% require 6 months or more to fill a role
  • 43% of new hires are from outside of Ireland
  • 27% have difficulty in retaining females

A sustained long term strategy is needed to address these gaps and Cyber Ireland is focused on building a strong pipeline of talent from schools to universities to industry with our partners. We have programs in place that promote career opportunities in Cyber to students through the Cyber Security Academy for Secondary Schools and the Career Talks & Cyber Summer Camp planned for June. We welcome the skills initiatives that are focused on upskilling our existing workforce and attracting talent to cross train in cyber security as are the great initiatives including the €8m Cyber Skills project, Future In Tech, FIT Cyber Apprenticeship, CyberQuest and many more.

I also want to call out the great work Cyber Women Ireland are doing to drive the diversity agenda across our industry. Retaining talent is a challenge we are well aware of, but we also need to make our places of work more inclusive and attractive for new & emerging talent. Watch out for the Diver{Se}curity Survey results in early June and check out and Diver{Se}curity Tool kit.

I’d like to welcome our new members that have joined us in 2021, we now have over 120 members nationwide, including almost 40 MNCs, 60 SMEs and 12 academic institutes. We continue to work with our partners in government, including the National Cyber Security Centre, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, to move forward Ireland’s cyber security agenda and advocate for industry’s needs. Now, more than ever, there is a need for a collaborative approach across industry, academia and government to address Ireland’s cyber security challenges.

In 2020, we were successful in securing funding under the Enterprise Ireland Regional Technology Cluster Fund to deliver a programme of activities to support the development and growth of Ireland’s indigenous cyber security start-ups and SMEs. This has begun with the formation of our SME-committee as well as joining the Global EPIC Soft-Landing Programme.

The rest of 2021 looks exciting as we continue with our key programs and bid to establish an OT Security Group, organise a global sourcing initiative with EI & IDA, bring forward a proposal for a national cyber security research centre and host our first National Cyber Conference in October where I hope to see you all.