Holyrood Public Sector Cyber Security Event – Key Highlights

The Holyrood Public Sector Cyber Security Conference has once again returned in person to Belfast to share the most recent updates and disruptions in the cyber security sphere and educate key public sector business representatives on the measures they need to incorporate into their business practice in order to keep company data safe.

The event, sponsored by Bring I.T. On, focused on examining the major issues for Northern Ireland’s public sector as it shifts to a new normal in terms of working post-pandemic. The various sessions examined the future of cyber security by delving into discussions on the growing threat of ransomware and the necessity of incident response preparation, as well as touching on some future predictions of the sector (such as the role that neurodiversity and skills development will play in the sector over the next couple of years). 

The Bring I.T. On team held an exhibition stand during the event, attending with the purpose of educating the tech industry leaders on both our role within the Tech sector. The team was also on hand to provide advice on how companies can utilise the variety of educational pathways that are available to meet the current demand for skilled talent. We had a fantastic time talking to employers, managers and business owners advising them on the steps they can take to diversify their workforce and open up their doors to a more varied range of new entrants.

The conference was filled with informative talks and panels from local industry leaders explaining their own experiences of how they tackled their cyber security issues. The event commenced with a talk titled ‘Cultivating Cyber Security Collaboration within Northern Ireland’ aiming to introduce attendees to the current cyber security landscape in Northern Ireland. The talk highlighted the importance of collaboration in staying safe online, as well as proposing a future approach to cultivating an ecosystem of collaboration. 

After a brief networking and refreshments break, attendees were welcomed back to a talk titled ‘Accelerating Digital Transformation: How to reduce friction in every digital experience’. Lead by Ian Lowe, Marketing Director at Okta who explained how to strengthen your security posture, by deep diving into Public Sector case studies to explore how to reduce I.T. friction across the organisational structure. 

We were also introduced to the world of continuous data protection by Mike Caiger, leading a talk on how to tackle ransomware attacks. Mike effectively explained how ransomware continues to evolve, bringing disruption and data loss which can take months to recover from. Attendees were informed about the role continuous data protection plays in helping to resume operations, recover to state and de-risk recovery with instant non-disruptive testing. 

We were also introduced to ‘Bitdefender’, a security software solution, through a demo delivered by Ollie Sheridan, Bitdefender’s Senior Solutions Engineer. Ollie dived into the importance of cyber resilience within today’s cyber space, and how it is no longer optional but a requirement. The demo led into a fascinating panel on how to face the next generation of cyber threats delivered by Tony Hughes from Ireland Chapter, John Hope from Sophos, Dr Paul Miller from Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), Professor Kevin Curran from Ulster University and Samuel Kinkaid from PSNI Cyber Crime Centre.

Following the demo, attendees were invited to attend an informative panel discussion focused around the topic of Developing the Cyber Security Workforce of the future. This panel, featuring Michael Gould from People Development International, Rachel Heron from BT Security and Joe Dolan from Northern Ireland Cyber Security Centre outlined the importance of diversity across the field, and the means necessary in getting more young women interested in a career within cyber security. 

After an eventful and informative afternoon, attendees were given the opportunity to network and form connections, before sitting down for the final panel discussion of the day entitled ‘Allies in Security: The Future of Northern Ireland’s Cyber Security’. The panel consisted of key speakers from previous talks and discussions such as Michael Gould, Tony Hughes, David Crozier and Joe Dolan, who were encouraged to share opinions on the overlap between the different cyber security methods that should be utilised within the public sector and finalise their own experiences.

This eventful conference highlighted, and answered, a multitude of questions within the public sector around cyber security related concerns and queries whilst uniting public sector organisations in a common goal of keeping safe from cyber security attacks.