Chairperson’s Address – Paul Walsh

It’s hard to believe we are already celebrating Cyber Ireland’s first anniversary. We have accomplished much in the past 12 months and I hope this newsletter shines more light on the many activities we are engaged in. Before I get into that I would like to acknowledge that at this time, the welfare of you, your families and staff is paramount and I hope you are all staying safe as we slowly emerge from lockdown. Indeed the events of the past 3 months have highlighted to me the importance of Cyber Security and its community as we face a barrage of Coronavirus related threats. The global scale of the coronavirus outbreak is a unique opportunity for attackers because anyone can be a target and everyone is vulnerable. These criminals have no morals or respect for human life, sadly any crisis is exploited. I’ve been inspired by the way the Irish Cyber Security community has united to protect our frontline services, to share core knowledge and help educate the remote workforce on how to protect themselves.  

Our goals from the outset were to address the needs of the cyber security industry in Ireland, unite industry, academia and government cyber security interests and to position Ireland as a global cyber security leader.  We have seen increased brand awareness and Cyber Ireland is emerging as the collective voice for Ireland’s cyber security sector. Core to all our activities is collaborating with the many organisations across Ireland’s cyber security ecosystem: from our Capture the Flags with Technology Ireland ICT Skillnets, working with the education sector to align courses with industry needs, or promoting the many cyber security events & meet-ups around the country. Cyber Ireland is also being recognised internationally. We have connected with a host of cyber security clusters from Belfast and Wales, Canada, the USA and Costa Rica, to Israel and Australia, and have been invited to become a member of a global network of 27 cyber security clusters.

In the past few months our traffic has increased considerably as have requests for information and comment.  I think it’s fair to say that we have found our voice and established that there is a demand and need for this organisation. Membership continues to grow and our South & West Chapters have been very active since their recent inception. Our calendar of events is growing and has been adjusted and amended to ensure we can continue to provide a valuable service, online, to our members in these challenging times.

Cyber Ireland has received funding from IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Cork Institute of Technology during its initiation phase since November 2018. Now, we need the support of the cyber security industry to ensure the long-term sustainability of the cluster and to deliver on our objectives. We are a not for profit organisation with modest operating costs, but we cannot operate for free. From the launch of Cyber Ireland in May 2019, we wanted the organisation to be open and inclusive and so membership has been free for the first year and open to all organisations. We had planned to launch our membership model in May 2020, but in light of current circumstances, we will delay the launch until June and are arranging an option for companies that are experiencing financial pressures due to COVID-19. Our strength is in our collective numbers to represent the sector and we do not want to risk losing this.

As we come to our first 12 months of operations, I would like to thank all our board members for their dedication and support, we are fortunate to have such an able and diverse group of leaders. To Cork Institute of Technology, for initiating the cluster and hosting Cyber Ireland, as well as all our academic and research partners. To IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the National Cyber Security Centre for their continued support and link with Government. I would also like to acknowledge the
fantastic role Dr. Eoin Byrne, our cluster manager, has played in supporting the board, growing the brand and driving all of our initiatives to successful outcomes. Finally, to you, the Cyber Ireland members and cyber security community, without your engagement and support none of this is possible.

Paul Walsh,
VP Engineering & Site Lead for McAfee Ireland,
Chairperson of Cyber Ireland