A huge THANK YOU from NHS Wales to the Cyber Wales community

A huge THANK YOU from NHS Wales to the Cyber Wales community

Last Wednesday at 4pm Cyber Wales received a request for help from NHS Wales.

We immediately sent out a CALL TO ACTION to the 2,000+ members of the Cyber Wales Ecosystem, this is what it said…

As you can imagine, the medical staff have really got their hands full at the moment but they are not the only ones. The IT staff, short-handed as they are, are up to their ears in work as well.  Many of the hospitals and medical centres around Wales have just received new Desktops and Laptops which will be a massive help as they tackle the increasing demand.  However, may of the contractors that they use to handle much of the basic workload, such as imaging, configuration and securing new end points have downed tools, either through being short-staffed or through unwillingness to travel.

Just to give you an idea of the scale of the problem, one hospital just took delivery of 1,000 machines and they have no-one to set them up. That is just one hospital and this situation obviously exists all over Wales (in an NHS building near you!)

So…  Are any of you able and willing to lend a hand?

This could be visiting sites to set up machines or dialling into sites to set up by RDP or it could be receiving machines, setting them up and sending them back again – or any possible solutions you can think of that will achieve the same result.  It could also be any bright ideas or best practice you may have been involved with (such as clever ways to set up mass PXE builds) that would help the onsite teams to do this job faster.

All hands to the pumps folks, your NHS needs you at this most trying of times.  Please respond directly to Nick Lewis.  I’m sure most of you know Nick from the Cluster meetings and the amazing talk he gave about cyber challenges in NHS Wales last year – well, things are even more challenging right now and he’d love to hear from you.

Within an hour Nick had received over 200 emails with offers of support from IT SysAdmins and Cyber folks from right across Wales – from Bangor to Wrexham and from Pembroke to Chepstow and all over Mid Wales.  Word continued to spread and through Thursday and Friday there was a steady stream of volunteers including people from outside of Wales such as the MoD in Bristol.  Other networks also picked up the call such as the DevOpsGroup and DCMS which was a huge help taking the total number of volunteers to over 400!

The Alacrity Foundation, who have a long-standing relationship with the Cyber Clusters, stepped up to the plate and helped to communicate the challenge to the NCSC i100 Network – proving the strength in depth of the collaborative networks in Wales and beyond.

This morning NHS Wales released a special Thank You message to Cyber Wales – let’s keep the momentum up folks and help the people who are trying to help us!

NCSC’s CyberFirst Girl’s Competition Final – Cardiff – 16 March 2020

NCSC’s CyberFirst Girl’s Competition Final – Cardiff – 16 March 2020

Congratulations to ‘CSL Rush’, a team from The Cathedral School in Llandaff, for coming 3rd in the National Finals of the NCSC’s CyberFirst Girl’s Competition 2020.

The event was hosted at Cornerstone, one of Cardiff’s newest conference centres which is also Cardiff’s oldest neo-gothic church. It was first opened in 1855 but when its Welsh-speaking Presbyterian congregation moved to join forces with another church the Heritage Lottery Fund helped the building to be re-born as a vibrant and exciting mixed-use community hub and corporate venue. The perfect backdrop for this cutting-edge technical event.

Janvi, Agnes, Iris and Bethan from Year 8 of the independent school took part in the online qualifying round against 12,000 participants and then showed stellar skills in the semi-finals and accumulated enough points to beat off nine other Welsh schools to secure themselves a place in the final.

The NCSC are working hard to get more girls interested in a career in cyber security. The CyberFirst Girls Competition provides a fun but challenging environment to inspire the next generation of young women. The competition is a team event, with each one made up of 4 female students from Year 8 in England and Wales, Year 9 in Northern Ireland and S2 in Scotland. The Grand Final was where the top ten teams from the regions gathered to compete for the title of CyberFirst Girls Competition Winners 2020.

It was a very close competition involving multiple streams of activities ranging from Capture the Flag hacking to robotics programming and good old-fashioned problem solving.

The proud winners were from King Edward’s School in Bath and all of the girls who took part on the day had a terrific time.

Well done to all the participants and llongyfarchiadau mawr iawn to the girls from Cathedral School for demonstrating the depth of cyber talent here in Wales.

Cyber Wales meets Cyber Ireland – Dublin – 11 March 2020

Cyber Wales meets Cyber Ireland – Dublin – 11 March 2020

Since 2017, Cyber Ireland have been bringing together Industry, Academia and Government to represent the needs of the Cyber Security Ecosystem in Ireland.

Their stated aims are a very close match for those of Cyber Wales, aiming to enhance the Innovation, Growth and Competitiveness of the companies and organisations which are part of their cluster.

At a Breakfast Briefing held in Welsh Government’s Dome Cymru, erected outside the iconic Customs House Quay building in Dublin, members of Cyber Wales – Dr Kerry Beynon of RDP Law and Damon Rands of Wolfberry – engaged in a series of presentations and a panel discussion with Cyber Ireland members on the importance of building a strong and collaborative Cyber Community.

The event, which formed part of Wales Week Dublin, was hosted by the Welsh Government Office in Dublin & UK Department of International Trade.

Great relationships were forged and we are all looking forward to welcoming Cyber Ireland to a Cyber Wales Cluster meeting very soon.

USW Newport Campus hosts CyberFirst Girls Competition – 8 February 2020

USW Newport Campus hosts CyberFirst Girls Competition – 8 February 2020

Newport Campus hosted the Welsh semi-final of the National Cyber Security Centre’s CyberFirst Girls Competition 2020 last Saturday.

Teams of girls aged 12 and 13 from 10 schools worked on a series of online codebreaking challenges set by industry during the event, which was one of 18 that took place simultaneously across the UK and involved almost 12,000 girls.

It was the first time a Wales-only contest – hosted at the National Cyber Security Academy (NCSA) at Newport Campus – has been held, thanks to the competition’s new regional format. The top 10 teams – including the Welsh champions – will then face off in a Grand Final in Cardiff next month.

The CyberFirst Girls Competition was launched four years ago by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – with the aim of boosting interest in cyber security among females, who are currently under-represented in the industry.

“We were delighted to host this competition at our Newport campus,” said Clare Johnson, USW’s Head of Cyber. “The girls worked incredibly hard all day, and it was very close at the end.

“Encouraging greater diversity in the industry is vital to ensure we can provide the best defences against ever increasing cyber attacks and events like this help inspire and encourage girls to consider a career in this field”.

Welsh CNI Forensic specialist Awen win MoD contract through DASA – 13 December 2019

Welsh CNI Forensic specialist Awen win MoD contract through DASA – 13 December 2019

In September 2018, Andrew Peaty from the MoD’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) came along to our Cluster meeting in the Cyber Village and explained how their no-strings-attached funding worked for companies with appropriate cyber solutions. He gave some great examples of innovative small businesses who have sold solutions into the MoD and described how to apply.

A number of companies, including Awen Collective based in Caerphilly took the time to speak with DASA and after learning more about the MoD and working out how their innovative security software solution could add value, they were awarded innovation funding to undertake an industrial cyber security project entitled “Project DOMINO”.

The funding was awarded as part of the DASA Open Call that seeks to discover innovative technologies from non traditional defence suppliers.

“As a small start-up company, the funding and support from the Ministry of Defence will help us to rapidly gear-up and provide innovative, valuable and proven industrial cyber security software to the various parts of the MoD reducing the possible disruption to military capability caused by large scale or targeted cyber-attacks” said Daniel Lewis, CEO of Awen Collective. “In addition it will advance the reach of our solutions into other sectors of critical national infrastructure (CNI) and advanced manufacturing, all facing challenges in the face of rapidly increasing cyber threats”.

The project, based on Dot software by Awen Collective, has arisen from a need not just in the MoD, but across society, where cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure such as energy, water and transportation could have catastrophic effects on people’s day-to-day lives.

The project commenced on the 1st November 2019, and will run for 12 months, culminating in an MoD evaluation of the demonstrated concept. This will lead to further exploitation within the MoD, its supply chain and Industry providers involved with CNI.

Many congratulations to Awen It is great to see successes like this come from the Cluster meetings of Cyber Wales and we all wish Dan and his team the best of luck in this exciting venture.

Thanks also to Andrew Peaty from DASA who has taken the time to come to Cluster meetings and meet Welsh companies who want to reach other markets – keep up the good work Andrew!

Slovak Police visit the Cyber Crime Unit of TARIAN – 21 September 2019

Slovak Police visit the Cyber Crime Unit of TARIAN – 21 September 2019

Tomas Lazor, a Podpraporcik, which means Warrant Officer/Investigator, from the Police Force of the Slovak Republic, came to Wales to meet with Mike Yeo, Detective Inspector of the Cyber Crime team of the Southern Wales Regional Organised Crime Unit (TARIAN).

The Slovak Police Force is growing and developing its cyber resources and whilst not being a dedicated cyber investigator himself Tomas, along with many others in the Force, is keen to learn, collaborate and do more to help cyber victims in his District of Strážske, Michalovce in the Region of Košice in Eastern Slovakia.

On a trip to the UK, which included visits to the Northampton Police, EMSOU (the East Midlands ROCU) and the London-based Police ICT Company who promote UK Police practices and technology worldwide, Tomas discussed approaches to cyber investigation and shared ideas and best practice on a range of cyber-related topics.

With a population of 5 million, Slovakia is closer to Wales in size and dynamics than to the UK as a whole and Tomas jumped at the opportunity to come to Wales and meet with the TARIAN Regional Cyber Crime Unit who have been proactive members of the Cyber Wales Ecosystem since attending the first ever South Wales Cyber Security Cluster meeting back in 2014.

He also brought with him an age-old police tradition, practiced by representatives when visiting their international counterparts.  The ‘exchanging of hats‘ is widely practiced between visiting police forces and in return for the Slovakian forage cap he was given an iconic UK Police helmet complete with the cap badge of the South Wales Police.

Welsh biometric innovators Connective Touch from Ebbw Vale are opening doors in Canada – 5 September 2019

Welsh biometric innovators Connective Touch from Ebbw Vale are opening doors in Canada – 5 September 2019

In July 2018, Mike Thususka, the Director of Economic Development for the City of Summerside in Eastern Canada came to visit Cyber Wales looking for innovative technologies that could add value to their ambitious Smart Cities programme.

Cluster member Steve Gallagher from 888 Group introduced Mike to the Cyber Wales Ecosystem through Bill Fraser, the Cardiff-based International Business Development expert from Fraser International.

8 Cluster members including Priszm & Interceptor Solutions from South Wales, TarianTech from Mid Wales and SI Risk from North Wales met with Mike to discuss the potential for their technologies in the North American markets.

6 of the Welsh companies were subsequently invited to visit Canada in November to demonstrate their ideas to the various Departments of the Summerside Government.

The “Living Lab” that Summerside have created across their city provides an amazing testbed for new technologies and the offer to use it was complimented by a soft landing programme for new companies, mentoring on the markets and proactive promotion of the vendors in Canada and the US through Summerside’s own business development networks.

One company, Connective Touch, were so warmly received that they incorporated a company in Canada in February and are running a full scale pilot installation of their unique biometric systems across the city with plans to tackle the giant market opportunity using Summerside as their launch pad.

Many congratulations to Devi Sohanta, founder of Connective Touch.  It is great to see successes like this come from global reach of Cyber Wales and we all wish Devi and her team the best of luck in this exciting venture.

Thanks also to Bill Fraser who continues to work his magic for Welsh companies who want to reach other markets around the world – keep up the good work Bill.

Cyber Wales Ecosystem answers call-to-arms as Welsh Student set to compete at WorldSkills 2019 Competition – 4 August 2019

Cyber Wales Ecosystem answers call-to-arms as Welsh Student set to compete at WorldSkills 2019 Competition – 4 August 2019

Kyle Woodward, a student at the National Cyber Security Academy in Newport, has successfully battled his way through Local, Regional (Wales) and then National competition stages to gain a seat on the plane to represent Team UK at WorldSkills 2019 in Russia along with 30 other people. Team UK are now training hard in their respective areas of expertise for this opportunity to shoot for Gold Medals in this event which has been dubbed the “Vocational Olympics“.

WorldSkills 2019 will take place in Kazan, Russia on 22-27 August 2019. The WorldSkills Competition, which is run every two years hosted by different Nations each time, will bring together more than 1,600 young professionals representing more than 60 countries who will compete in 56 skills which are grouped into 6 Sectors including ICT. The event will be held at the KAZAN EXPO International Exhibition Centre where more than 1,500 Experts will evaluate the Competitors’ performance (see www.worldskills2019.com for more information).

7 competitors from Wales will represent Team UK at this competition, the highest ever number of Welsh competitors representing Team UK. The competitors from Wales include:

  • Kyle Woodward in Cyber Security from Cardiff and Vale College
  • Phoebe McLavy in Hairdressing from Coleg Sir Gar and Morgan Edward Salon
  • Collette Gorvett in Restaurant Service from Gower College Swansea
  • Chris Caine in Joinery from Pembrokeshire College and DH Carpentry
  • Sam Everton in Cooking from Pembrokeshire College and Crwst
  • Thomas Lewis in Electrical Installation from Cardiff and Vale College and Blues Electrical
  • Thomas Thomas in Plumbing from Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor

Kyle attended a Welsh Language school and is a fluent Welsh speaker, he then went to college (Cardiff & Vale) and then onto an apprenticeship degree course at the ground-breaking National Cyber Security Academy in the University of South Wales. He joined the South Wales Cyber Security Cluster when he started his degree and has been a very proactive member.

When we discovered that Kyle had been selected to represent Team UK at WorldSkills, the Cyber Wales Ecosystem put out a “Call to Arms” to the entire membership asking if anyone could help Kyle get some additional experience and knowledge training ahead of his trip to Russia and the response has been amazing (a real Welsh “Dunkirk” story!). We had lots of responses including: –

  • NHS Wales
  • SANS Institute in Swansea
  • Royal Signals Cyber Troop
  • TARIAN Regional Cyber Crime Unit
  • North Wales Police Cyber Crime Team
  • Glyndwr University
  • DVLA
  • Thales
  • Airbus

We also reached out to GlobalEPIC, the Global Ecosystem of Ecosystems in Cyber of which Cyber Wales is a Founding Member, which includes 27 Cyber Clusters in 18 countries across 6 continents and received invitations from The Hague Security Delta in the Netherlands and the iCyber Techhub in Maryland USA offering to host Kyle for some special training sessions and considering exchange visits for their Cyber Champions to come to Wales.

May’s South Wales Cluster Meeting was staged at the Cyber Village on the National Cyber Security Academy floor of the USW City Campus in Newport and the entire agenda was given over to providing learning, advice and tips on a number of cyber related topics from the experts in the Cyber Cluster. Questions were posed to prompt discussion and the group, offered opinions, experiences, healthy debate and handled any specific queries Kyle had around target learning areas in preparation for the competition.

After the meeting, Kyle was taken over to the Cardiff Barracks of the Royal Corps of Signals Cyber Protection Troop at 53 Signal Squadron where he joined members of British Army Cyberists from Cardiff, North Wales, London and Army HQ Wales for an interactive session on Cyber in the Armed Forces including the Cyber Kill Chain, Indicators of Compromise and the Army’s Cyber Incident Response Process.

Kyle was also welcomed by the NHS Informatics team and shown how incident response and secure programming are handled as well as being given the chance to quiz the team and get further guidance for study.

Following his adventures with the South Wales Cluster, Kyle travelled up to North Wales two days later for a session with the North Wales Cyber Security Cluster which included time in the new Cyber Labs at Glyndwr University, input from the North Wales Police Cyber Unit and a session with Cyber Experts in forensics and secure development.

SANS Institute, the biggest provider of Cyber Training in the World, who have their EMEA HQ in Swansea, also hosted Kyle, offering him £7,500 worth of certified training free of charge – which took place in Germany.

John Davies, CEO at Pervade Software and Chair of the South Wales Cyber Security Cluster, said: “Being part of Team UK at WorldSkills is a massive achievement for Kyle, and shows the strength and sense of community of the Cyber Ecosystem in Wales, with a number of cluster members offering experience and knowledge training as Kyle prepares to go to Russia. We’ve even set up exchanges for cyber champions with other eco system members across the world.”

We would like to take this opportunity to wish Kyle the best of luck in the competition and whatever the result, he will remain a winner in the eyes of all in Cyber Wales.

Pob Lwc Kyle a Team UK!

Cyber Innovation Hub opens in the Airbus facility in – Newport – 24 June 2019

Cyber Innovation Hub opens in the Airbus facility in – Newport – 24 June 2019

Airbus Cyber Innovation celebrates the opening of its Cyber Innovation Hub located in the Airbus facility in Newport, Wales. The Hub hosts leading cyber security research initiatives, incubators and accelerators, and academic research partnerships. Key areas of research include the protection of industrial control and safety critical systems, understanding the human factors of cyber security, and artificial intelligence and data analytics.

The Newport Hub helps promote Wales’ reputation for cyber excellence by developing cyber talent in the region and engaging with Welsh industry and academia.

An ambitious cyber security initiative jointly funded by the Welsh Government and Airbus called CyberLab is hosted at the Airbus Cyber Innovation Hub. The dedicated up to £8 million programme of activity and research in a laboratory environment develops fundamental cyber security research for key industrial requirements in advanced manufacturing organisations.

Partnerships with academia are key to Airbus Cyber Innovation’s goal of identifying and developing emerging research and technology. The Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Analytics is a partnership with Cardiff University launched in 2017. A leading UK academic research unit for cyber security analytics, the team is developing new ways of protecting corporate IT networks, intellectual property and critical national infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Attending the opening, Ken Skates AM, Minister for Economy and Transport, said: “I am delighted to be working in partnership with Airbus on this exciting and absolutely vital new facility. This Cyber Innovation Hub will give front line leadership in cyber security to companies and enterprises across Wales and indeed the UK for this and future generations. I view Cyber as a building block for every commercial enterprise in Wales. It is not only larger businesses that should be concerned about cyber security, it is every size of business across the entire Country who needs to take action now to safeguard our national infrastructure and strong supply chain.”

Dr Kevin Jones, Head of Airbus Cyber Innovation, said: “The launch of the Cyber Innovation Hub is further recognition of the strategic importance of the cybersecurity research and innovation programme for Airbus. It demonstrates the company’s commitment to cybersecurity and research into the protection of business and critical systems and recognises the value of the cyber security ecosystem in Wales. The flagship cyber innovation laboratory and CyberLab programme enables transformation of the cyber security horizon, and further enhances the “Cyber Wales” brand on a global scale.”

Dr Emma Philpot is awarded an MBE – 9 June 2019

Dr Emma Philpot is awarded an MBE – 9 June 2019

Today, there are 23 Cyber Security Clusters operating in the UK under the umbrella of the UK Cyber Security Forum.

These Clusters are helping cyber security professionals to meet regularly and share best practice all over the country from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to Norfolk and everywhere in between. The Forum was founded as a Community Interest Company in 2014 by Dr Emma Philpott who also formed the very first Cyber Security Cluster in Malvern in 2011.

Cyber Wales began life as one of these Cyber Security Clusters, the second open Cluster to form after Malvern, and since 2014 we have grown into 7 Clusters with 1,200+ members from over 750 organisations enjoying partnerships with 30 international Clusters from 25 countries across all 5 continents.

All of this began thanks to the vision and hard work of Dr Emma Philpott and we are delighted to offer our CONGRATULATIONS to Emma for being awarded an MBE for contributions to cyber security.

It all began when Emma earned her PhD for her work in the UK MoD in CMCs (ceramic matrix composites) used today right across the Defense and Space industries and beyond. This highly technical background was the foundation that enabled a shift into the world of Cyber Security and when the UK Government announced it’s first public release National Cyber Security Strategy in 2011 Emma was right there in the thick of things.

Determined to fly the flag for SME’s and minority groups in a cyber security world dominated by Government and Enterprises, Emma set about redressing the balance and we are all enjoying the results of her ideas and hard work.

In addition to running the Malvern Cluster and the Forum, Emma runs a company, The IASME Consortium, which was selected as one of the first Accreditation Bodies for the UK Government’s Cyber Essentials Scheme and IASME have completed more than the lion share of the certifications issued to organisations all over the UK.

More recently, Emma has pioneered another visionary project. The UK Cyber Security Forum runs cyber security training courses for unemployed neuro-diverse adults and the graduates from this revolutionary training programme are working in a SOC (Security Operations Centre) aimed at running services for micro-businesses and charities.

It is ideas, vision, hard work and dedication to causes such as these that has made Emma stand out within the industry and whenever a panel of experts is assembled or whenever the BBC needs a comment from an industry expert, it is Dr Emma Philpott who is first on the list.

Dr Emma Philpott MBE… Cyber Wales would just like to say “Llongyfarchiadau mawr iawn i chi Emma, a diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am eich waith galed