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New cyber security centre opens to protect Civil Service computer systems

The cyber Security Operations Centre in Belfast is being operated by BT.
The cyber Security Operations Centre in Belfast is being operated by BT.

A new centre that will protect the Northern Ireland Civil Service against cyber attacks has officially opened.

The facility in Belfast is being operated by BT after the company was awarded a £6.3 million Stormont contract to protect public service IT systems against hackers and other online threats.

The cyber Security Operations Centre (SOC), which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, will also provide expert services to the private sector in the region.

The 40-seat centre of excellence, which will provide 24-hour all-year-round management for ICT assets across the Northern Ireland Civil Service, is housed in BT’s flagship Riverside Tower building in Belfast.

BT’s Paul Murnaghan and Valerie Wilson join Paul Duffy (right), from the Northern Ireland Civil Service, at the official opening of the Security Operations Centre (Press Eye/PA)

The SOC forms part of a wider multimillion-pound investment in the building by BT.

Currently all 11 floors are undergoing significant refurbishment to create a workplace for approximately 1,800 staff, with the final floors due to be completed in early 2023.

Paul Murnaghan, regional director for BT’s Enterprise business in Northern Ireland, said: “Each day, millions of people around the world rely on BT’s expertise in cyber security to ensure they can go about their lives and run their businesses safely.

“Our investment in the opening of BT’s Security Operations Centre in Belfast is significant and we look forward to working with the Northern Ireland Civil Service in this partnership to deliver the most effective cyber support for the public sector here.

“Using a wealth of talent from local cyber experts, the SOC will help to tackle the unprecedented challenges of sophisticated cyber threats.

“As an increasing number of public services are delivered online, our partnership with central government will help to ensure that the public can trust the services that they access and that the data they provide is secure and protected.”

Paul Duffy, director of Enterprise Shared Services at the Civil Service, said: “Protecting the cyber security of government IT and infrastructure is vital.

“The service provided by BT plays an important role in gathering intelligence on cyber threats and enables the Civil Service to enhance its capacity to help defend and protect our IT systems and essential public services we deliver.”

BT operates an international network of security operations centres, employing more than 3,000 cyber security professionals.