Opportunity knocks as Northern Ireland's innovators find answers to cyber security
Cyber security, says Stephen Wray of Deloitte Digital, will be one of the big issues in the spotlight at next month's Digital DNA showcase in Belfast, which will be attended by a host of influential entrepreneurs
The chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission recently called cyber security the major risk to the global financial industry.
Indeed, many say cyber security is the biggest problem of the internet age. This backdrop provides an ideal landscape for innovation.
Barely a week goes by without us hearing of an organisation which has suffered a security breach. Last month, a UK government report said two-thirds of large businesses experienced a cyber-attack in the past year.
Research shows that in some cases cyber breaches and attacks on business cost millions. TalkTalk is estimated to have lost 101,000 customers and costs of £60m due to a cyber-attack in October.
But the threat also creates an opportunity to innovate, to bring new products and services to market and add real value to customers and society as a whole. Northern Ireland is becoming a world leader in cyber innovation.
The award winning Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), where I was previously commercial director, and the fast growing cluster of companies in Belfast supported by the great work of NISP Connect and others, means we have the scale and domain expertise to lead the world.
The digital world is converging and one of our strengths as a region is our connectedness. Close friendships and trusted relationships have been built in the tech community over decades. I and many others began in places like Nortel, BT and 90s start-up successes like Amphion.
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In NI there is just one-degree of separation across deep expertise in the converging industries of digital, cloud, analytics and cyber.
Convergence is important. It is one of the reasons I am excited about Digital DNA next week.
Deloitte Digital is the headline sponsor. Peter Hughes, visionary and creative lead of Deloitte Digital Canada, is giving a keynote on the future of banking. We're running sessions on Blockchain and cyber security and colleagues from Deloitte Digital Dublin will run workshops on the Enterprise train from Cork to Belfast the day before. Ideas can come from the most unlikely places.
At Deloitte we support clients to build trust into digital systems, meaning cyber security can be an enabler, creating true value in new products, services and business models. If a customer or consumer has absolute trust in your product, system or service, the likelihood is that they will use it more, and achieve more with it. Thankfully, more of our clients realise that a sophisticated approach to cyber security should not only be viewed as a cost, but an opportunity.
We will strongly support the growing ambition of our region with our global connections, breadth of experience and depth of expertise. This world-wide super-trend of 'cyber', caused by the rapid evolution of the threat landscape and the convergence of a number of parallel trends, affects everyone, no matter where they are in the world.
So why shouldn't Northern Ireland take a lead? It's in our DNA.
Stephen Wray is head of cyber at Deloitte Digital