Northern Ireland must prioritise investment in cyber security sector to become global tech leader, says Deloitte expert

Developing Northern Ireland’s cyber security expertise should be a key plank of the NI Executive’s economic strategy if it wants the local tech sector to build a global reputation for excellence.

That’s the view of Stephen Wray, newly appointed Director of Cyber Risk Services at Deloitte in Belfast, who believes up to £1bn should be ring-fenced by the Executive for investment in the cyber security ecosystem over the next ten years.

Before joining Deloitte, Stephen spent six years as Commercial Director of the award winning Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast, the UK’s National Innovation and Knowledge Centre for cyber security. In that role he was heavily involved in cyber innovation across UK government, industry and academia, with responsibility for commercialisation of research and supporting cyber business growth across the UK.

Mr Wray believes Northern Ireland’s plans should have a strategic alignment to the UK government’s cyber strategy, which will see £1.9bn spent on cyber security in the next five years. But he thinks the Executive should also set aside funding for its own cyber initiatives.

He said: “Northern Ireland has the opportunity to lead the world in secure, robust and resilient digital transformation and become a top-tier cyber economy. The expertise and capabilities that exist here has already made NI number one for US foreign direct investment in cyber security.

“Cyber should be NI’s £1bn project. It’s the thing we can be great at - our ‘moon-shot’. What has been achieved in countries like Estonia and Israel in terms of cyber innovation can be replicated and bettered by NI because we have a cluster of start-ups, universities and big international corporations investing in the sector. To capitalise on this momentum needs a scale-up of ambition to drive the knowledge economy, with market focused cutting edge research, models of innovation and collaboration, investment in skill and talent and providing the right infrastructure and facilities to support business growth.”

Deloitte has 3,000 cyber security experts across the world, 160 in the UK and bleeding-edge cyber innovation centres in Belgium, Washington and Singapore. Wray will compliment this global network by establishing a cyber innovation centre in Belfast. In May Deloitte announced plans to grow its workforce in Belfast to 1,000 by 2020 and one of the key areas of focus will be cyber.

Mr Wray said cyber is under increased scrutiny in the business world because of escalating security breaches and increasing issues of governance, risk and compliance.

“Following its enquiry into a number of high profile incidents, the UK Government Department of Culture Media and Sports has recommended that cyber security should sit with someone at the top-level of a business who can be fully sanctioned if the company has not taken sufficient steps to protect itself from a cyber-attack,” he said.

“The Department also recommended that a portion of CEO compensation ‘should be linked to effective cyber security’, so executives and board members should be giving it their full attention.”

However it’s not just a matter of compliance. Savvy businesses are using good cyber security as a competitive advantage. Cyber security is no longer viewed solely as a cost, but also as an opportunity. Building trust into digital systems means better served customers, business growth and a better society for all.


About Deloitte

Deloitte is consistently at the top of the rankings by Forrester Research Inc’s for Information Security Consulting Services. Deloitte encourage clients to invest in protecting their most critical assets and in embedding good cyber behaviour while becoming better at detecting attacks and responding effectively to minimise business impact. They call this approach Secure.Vigilant.Risilient.TM

  • Secure: Behaviour, Education, Policies, Standards, Control Frameworks, IAM, Privacy
  • Vigilant: Penetration Testing, application security, IoT security, monitoring, threat intel, cyber analytics, DLP and vulnerability management. Managed service via Cyber Intelligence Centre.
  • Resilient: Crisis management, incident response, war gaming & simulations, business resilience & recovery, investigations & Forensics.

In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

About Stephen Wray
Stephen Wray joined Deloitte’s Belfast Technology Services centre as Director Cyber Risk Services in May 2016. A technologist with a strong business acumen Stephen is a proven innovator and market maker in cyber security with 18 years’ experience of technology commercialisation. Before Deloitte, Stephen spent 6 years as Commercial Director of The ECIT Institute at Queen's University Belfast, a remit which included The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT). He was responsible for innovation and commercialisation, which included industrial partnerships, collaborative research, contract research, IP licensing and spin-out company creation. CSIT is the UK’s National Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) for cyber security so Stephen was in a strong position to develop close relationships across government, industry and academia. He served on the UK’s Cyber Growth Partnership Operating Board. He created CSIT Labs (a cyber incubator), he mentors at Cyber London (CyLon - a cyber accelerator) and he is a non-executive Director of Catalyst Inc. A graduate from the University of Edinburgh, in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, he has a wealth of experience in building technology start-ups. He previously led the licensing business at APTX (now Qualcomm) and Amphion Semiconductor, two of Belfast’s best-known start-up success stories.

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