Cyber-attack risk could create jobs in Northern Ireland

More Northern Ireland-based security jobs could be created to tackle the increased risk of cyber attacks.

About 1,200 people are employed in cyber security in Northern Ireland, and Queen’s University has just announced 10 new jobs.

As a summit gets under way in Belfast, Dr Godfrey Gaston, of the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), is hopeful even more will follow.

He said the eighth World Cyber Security Summit is “the most international yet”.

Speakers, including Nadia Carlsten from the United States Department of Homeland Security and former GCHQ director Robert Hannigan, will tackle topics including the challenge of making cyber security usable for everyone and the “weaponisation of social media”.

‘Huge opportunity’

Dr Gaston, director of CSIT and one of the chairs of the summit, said: “There are many future challenges but the most significant is the interconnected world.

“Now we only connect laptops, desktops, mobiles and tablets to the internet but the in the future it will be cars, your ‘digital home’ – they will all be connected.

“The attack face has got a lot bigger, you have got to protect your car, your house and whatever else.

“It is about how you manage, when everything is connected, to protect from cyber threats.

“We would not wish these problems on anybody but we do want to work with companies and provide that solution.

“There are about 1,200 cyber security jobs in Belfast and our biggest agenda is how we can grow that number significantly in the coming years.

“We have a huge opportunity.”

The two-day summit at the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) at Queen’s is focusing on security in the future digital society and the growth of new cyber-security companies.

In recent years companies in Northern Ireland have played a crucial role in providing security for private companies and government organisations, including helping to find a solution for an attack on the NHS in England and Scotland in 2017.

Dr Gaston said: “The bad news is that the threats are increasing but the silver lining is that that presents opportunities for us to find solutions.”

CSIT, which is part of Queen’s and was officially opened in 2009, is home to the UK’s largest cyber-security research cluster.

The 10 new jobs created by the university will help to meet the demands of new contracts and the rapidly growing cyber-security here.