Cyber Quarter Joins ISC2 Official Training Partner Programme to Advance Cyber Security Training

Cyber Quarter Midlands Centre for Cyber Security, a leading institution dedicated to advancing cyber security professionals’ education and services, is thrilled to announce it has become an Official Training Partner (OTP) of ISC2, the world’s leading non-profit member organisation for cyber security professionals. This partnership aims to bolster cyber security training initiatives and equip UK professionals with the skills and expertise needed to combat evolving cyber threats effectively.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the demand for skilled cyber security professionals has never been higher. The UK cyber workforce gap alone has reached a record high, with 73,439 professionals needed to adequately safeguard digital assets. Furthermore, 93% of UK cyber security professionals are experiencing skills gaps at their organisations. This collaboration brings together the expertise and resources of Cyber Quarter and ISC2 to address the demand for skilled professionals by improving cyber security knowledge and capabilities, as well as expanding the pool of certified individuals.

Cyber Quarter will offer dedicated training programmes using ISC2 materials and authorised instructors to prepare individuals at all stages of their cyber security careers to obtain ISC2 certifications, including the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certifications, among others. Professionals undertaking training for ISC2’s cyber security certifications will benefit from expert-led sessions covering domains aligned with the certification exams.

Prof Prashant Pillai, Managing Director of Cyber Quarter and Pro-Vice Chancellor, expressed his excitement about the partnership, stating, “This collaboration between Cyber Quarter and ISC2 marks a significant milestone in our mission to empower cyber security professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to excel in their careers. Together, we will contribute to a more secure digital landscape by providing high-quality professional training and certifications.”

Marc Barfoot, Manager of Commercial Partnerships at ISC2, said, “We are thrilled to announce Cyber Quarter as an Official Training Partner of ISC2. As global and national cyber threats escalate, the need for education to help collectively defend against tomorrow’s cyber risks has never been more important. Our partnership will enable Cyber Quarter students, from a diverse range of backgrounds in the UK, to develop core skills within all areas of cyber security. Through official training, individuals can access relevant, up-to-date course content for our premier cybersecurity certifications, enabling them to achieve their professional goals and further their careers.’’

This partnership represents another step forward in addressing the global shortage of skilled cyber security professionals and underscores the commitment of both Cyber Quarter and ISC2 to advancing cyber security education to make a lasting impact on the cyber security landscape.

For more information about Cyber Quarter and its cyber security training programmes, please visit   

About Cyber Quarter

The trail-blazing Cyber Quarter Ltd is a joint venture between the University of Wolverhampton and Herefordshire Council. The centre is based on Skylon Park, Hereford’s Enterprise Zone and a key player in the Cyber Valley (home to 15% of the UK’s top 600 cyber companies) that spans Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.

Cyber Quarter provides a range of cyber security services from bespoke Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training courses, industry recognised vendor certification courses, as well as a range of cyber products, services and consultancy to protect your business.

About ISC2

ISC2 is the world’s leading member organization for cyber security professionals, driven by our vision of a safe and secure cyber world. Our more than 600,000 members, candidates and associates around the globe are a force for good, safeguarding the way we live. Our award-winning certifications – including cyber security’s premier certification, the CISSP® – enable professionals to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities at every stage of their careers. ISC2 strengthens the influence, diversity and vitality of the cyber security profession through advocacy, expertise and workforce empowerment that accelerates cyber safety and security in an interconnected world. Our charitable foundation, The Center for Cyber Safety and Education, helps create more access to cyber careers and educate those most vulnerable. Learn more and get involved at Connect with us on X, Facebook and LinkedIn.

PECB UK and Ireland signs a partnership agreement with the Cyber Quarter Ltd.

(March 23, 2023) – It is with great pleasure that PECB UK and Ireland announces a new partnership agreement with the Cyber Quarter Ltd. This step will enable the distribution of PECB training courses in the UK and Ireland, and will ensure that the respective companies will give expertise-based contribution in offering and organizing PECB training courses.

“PECB UK and Ireland has built a strong reputation in the international market for its expertise and ability to develop and deliver many ISO standards trainings,” says Graeme Parker, Managing Director of PECB UK and Ireland. “We believe our training courses perfectly complement the Cyber Quarter Ltd. and this partnership will enable us to provide people in the UK and Ireland a cost-effective way to invest in their professional careers,” he added. Cyber threats are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world. As technology continues to advance, so do the techniques used by cybercriminals to breach organizations’ systems and steal sensitive information. This is why cyber training has become a crucial need for individuals and organizations alike.

About PECB 

PECB is a certification body that provides education, certification, and certificate programs for individuals on a wide range of disciplines.

We help professionals and organizations show commitment and competence by providing them with valuable education, evaluation, certification, and certificate programs against rigorous internationally recognized standards. Our mission is to provide our clients with comprehensive services that inspire trust, continual improvement, demonstrate recognition, and benefit the society as a whole. For further information about PECB, and for the complete list of standards, please visit

About the Cyber Quarter Ltd.

The trail blazing Cyber Quarter Ltd is a joint venture between the University of Wolverhampton and Herefordshire Council. The center is based on Skylon Park, Hereford’s Enterprise Zone and a key player in the Cyber Valley (home to 15% of the UK’s top 600 cyber companies) that spans across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. 

Cyber Quarter provide a range of cyber security services from bespoke Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training courses, industry recognized vendor certification courses, as well as a range of cyber products, services and consultancy to protect your business.

Cyber Quarter – Strengthening business resilience, one person at a time!

Although it can be quite daunting, one of the best ways to realise the importance of sound cyber security is through knowing the facts. 

According to Hiscox, one small business in the UK is successfully hacked every 19 seconds. Every day, it is estimated that there are around 65,000 attempts to hack small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs), with around 4,500 being successful. That’s a massive 1.6 million SMBs in the UK every year. 

Furthermore, research demonstrates that one of the leading causes of cybersecurity breaches is due to human error. In 2021, it was found to be responsible for 95% of breaches, which has understandably led to the call for attention to be drawn to Human Factors. 

In cybersecurity, human factors refer to the situations when the human error results in a successful data or security breach; it can be said that humans are the weakest component in terms of security and imply the greatest risks and threats for any business or organisation. Unfortunately, a growing factor that is influencing human error is increased levels of stress. 

According to CIISec’s 2020/2021 State of Profession report, 557 security professionals have said that stress has become a major issue in recent years, with 80% also saying that they have seen the first-hand effects of stress on their staff. This is concerning as research has shown that, when people are stressed, they are more vulnerable to the attempts of cyber criminals. 

To raise awareness of this, the Cyber Quarter recently held a workshop at the Cyber Quarter building in Hereford entitled ‘People – The Hidden Human Cost of Cyber’ as part of a Business Resilience Programme. The aim of this workshop was to share insights with local businesses on how, by de-risking your people’s behaviours, de-risking your contracts and optimising your insurance, you can actually thrive after a cyber-attack and not just survive.  

Along with Clare Murphy & Rebecca Kirk from Harrison Clark Rickerbys Ltd, the Cyber Quarter were joined by Human Factors Specialist Ellen Kay.   

“Our people are not only our greatest asset but our greatest liability. You don’t hire your greatest insider threat you create them OR you give them your password! We can de-risk our organisations if we de-risk the thinking and behaviours of our employees. There is also a significant benefit by taking professional advice in advance of an attack and not afterwards. The most significant one is cost savings. Creating a culture of resilency will enhance not only performance but reduce risk. And at a time of huge economic change it is never more important to take care of your costs, your contracts, your supply chain, your customers, your employees and your market position. If you take action you can take control.” Ellen Kay. 

Here is some feedback from the session: 

“Invaluable advise”, “Thank you, thank you, thank you”, “Informative case studies”, “A great format” 

All the businesses who attended the workshop were able to apply the insights from the session into their own business. New employment contracts are being drafted, bespoke workshops are being discussed for a clients’ client-base and another company has signed up for our complete Human Factors programme. If you’re a business looking for support to improve your cyber resilience, feel free to send us an enquiry via the Cyber Quarter website, or send us an email via the address below. 


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Wolverhampton clinches ‘Cyber University of the Year’ award

The University of Wolverhampton has clinched a top award for ‘Cyber University of the Year’ at this year’s The National Cyber Awards 2022 held in London recently. 

The awards have been set up to reward those who are committed to cyber innovation, cyber crime reduction and protecting citizens online. 

The university offers a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes in cyber security and computer science at its Wolverhampton City Campus and it officially opened the new Cyber Quarter – The Midlands Centre for Cyber Security in Herefordshire last year.  

The centre is a joint venture between the University of Wolverhampton and Herefordshire Council and is part-funded by the Government’s Local Growth Fund, via the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  

The cyber team has engaged with over 100 businesses, assisted nearly 60 SMEs to improve their cyber defences, started 30 cyber related Research and Development projects and supported over 19 new to firm or new to market products. The academic team has also helped set up 5 new cyber related spin-out companies and are leading several regional and national Cyber networks.  

Professor Prashant Pillai, Centre Director Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security and Professor of Cyber Security at the University, said: “We were delighted to have been named finalist for the second year running in these prestigious awards and it was amazing to have clinched the top prize as ‘Cyber University of the Year’ at the recent awards ceremony. 

“The expertise and specialist focus of our new centre is part of a wider, growing ecosystem of cyber sector companies based within the Cyber Quarter on Skylon Park in Herefordshire. The area is already home to a highly regarded cyber economy, and the knowledge, expertise and opportunities that the centre brings along with the strong academic expertise at the University is helping to establish Herefordshire as one of the capitals of the cyber security sector. 

“It’s a magnificent new Centre that brings to Hereford a brand- new research and innovation, training and incubation hub that focuses on how we can develop the cyber skills of the future with the research and innovation that many of our companies need. This is a major innovation in the area and one that will firmly put Hereford and Wolverhampton on the map in terms of cyber security.” 

The winners were announced on Monday 26 September 2022 at the awards evening at Novotel West in London. You can see the full list of finalists on the website at www.thenational cyber 

Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security offers a package of tailored security testing, training, Research & Development and sector expertise to businesses and investors.  

Supported by the university’s cyber academic team of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, the centre offers product testing and certification, CPD and short courses and cyber conferences such as the recent Cyber Fringe Festival which attracted experts from across the globe.   

The 2,000 square metre building provides significant resources for research and development across three cyber laboratories, advanced training facilities and additional business space for up to 16 cyber companies.  

The centre, which secured £2.82m of funding via the Marches LEP’s Growth Deal with Government in 2017, is part of the new Cyber Quarter at Skylon Park, already home to numerous defence and security sector businesses.  

The new centre incorporates a full height glass atrium to provide a dual break-out space and function hall, alongside the main three storey building which houses business suites, innovation rooms, IT workshops and a ‘Cyber Range’ – a cutting edge facility that will defend against the global rise of hacking.  

Anyone interested in courses offered or businesses looking for incubation space can find out more about the Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security on the website. 

InfoSec 2022 – Representing the Midlands Cyber Ecosystem

On the 21st through to the 23rd June, the Cyber Quarter attended Infosecurity Europe 2022 at the Excel in London.

Infosecurity Europe is considered the biggest gathering of the information security community in Europe, which nurtures the growth of the cyber security community through innovation and knowledge sharing, testing and benchmarking solutions, building relationships and driving new businesses. During this 3-day event, Infosec Europe brought together under one roof expertise and knowledge from the world’s finest cybersecurity experts, with the aim of connecting practitioners with suppliers to find true solutions and bringing together industry peers to network, share and to grow stronger and more resilient together.

The Cyber Quarter joined forces with other businesses in the region to represent the Midlands Cyber Ecosystem. We showed not only what the Midlands has to offer in terms of cyber security, but also the strength of the cyber community and the bonds that local businesses share.

Our Knowledge Transfer Manager/Cyber Security Consultant, Oluwafemi Falobi, represented the Cyber Quarter at the event and successfully showcased the Cyber Quarter’s services and offerings, whilst making meaningful connections with other like-minded people.

We caught up with Femi to find out more about his time at Infosec 2022:

Oluwafemi Falobi, Knowledge Transfer Manager/Cyber Security Consultant

“Infosec brought together some of the finest minds within the cyber security community, alongside innovative solutions to new and existing cyber security issues.

Being a part of Infosec Europe 2022 was an amazing experience, which gave me the opportunity to meet knowledgeable and experienced local and international cyber professionals across various information security subdomains.

The atmosphere at Infosec provided opportunities to find new solutions that could be integrated into business processes to increase business resilience thereby ensuring business continuity as well as created great networking opportunities that fosters collaboration and birth of new solutions to problems that plague our cyber space.

I really enjoyed the experience as it has opened doors for partnerships, innovation, and collaboration, which in turn helps maintain a healthier and safer cyber space for all.

Being granted the opportunity to represent the Cyber Quarter and exhibit its service offerings alongside other amazing companies jointly forming the Midlands Cyber Cluster was a major highlight. Engaging students, practitioners, and businesses seeking to know more about the Cyber Quarter’s offerings and how they can benefit and/or collaborate started off a lot of interesting conversations, which are still ongoing, and promises to positively impact all parties involved as well as the cyber community at large. If you want to know more about the Cyber Quarter’s service offerings and how you and/or your business could benefit, feel free to contact me through my email below.”

Contact Femi via his email:

For general enquiries about the Cyber Quarter’s services and offerings, please fill in an enquiry form on our website.

To keep up to date with the latest happening at the Cyber Quarter, follow our LinkedIn page:

New cyber building officially opened in Herefordshire

The new £9 million Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security based at Skylon Park on the Herefordshire Enterprise Zone has been officially opened today (Monday 6 December 2021).

Erika Lewis, Director for Cyber Security and Digital Identity at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, was joined by a senior representative from the National Cyber Security Centre – a part of GCHQ – alongside partners to cut the ribbon on the new building which has already scooped two prestigious construction awards.

The centre is a joint venture between the University of Wolverhampton and Herefordshire Council and is part-funded by the Government’s Local Growth Fund, via the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The £9m state-of-the-art hub supports innovation and industry in the sector, offering a package of tailored security testing, training, Research & Development and sector expertise to businesses and investors.

Minister for Media, Data and Digital Infrastructure, Julia Lopez, said:”This new state-of-art-centre will be a fantastic addition to the country’s booming cyber security industry and offer businesses the support they need to take their ideas to the next level.

 “Growing and developing the UK’s technology sector is a crucial part of our mission to level up and we are backing firms with pro-innovation policies and supporting people to get the skills to succeed.”

Professor Prashant Pillai, Associate Dean Research and Knowledge Exchange and Centre Director Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security, said: “Now, more than ever as globally we collectively try to recover following the Covid-19 pandemic, this new centre will be of real value to people who are launching or growing their business.

“The expertise and specialist focus of the new centre will be part of a wider, growing campus of cyber sector companies based within the Cyber Quarter on Skylon Park. The area is already home to a highly regarded cyber economy, and the knowledge, expertise and opportunities that the centre brings will help to establish Herefordshire as one of the capitals of the cyber security sector.

“We are hoping to forge strategic partnerships and relationships with some of the world’s leading expertise in cyber and security, really putting Herefordshire and the Midlands on the international map.”

Cllr David Hitchiner, Leader of Herefordshire Council, said: “It is wonderful to see the Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security officially open. We have been working jointly with the University of Wolverhampton for several years now and it has been thrilling to see the Centre take shape.

“Herefordshire is already home to a thriving cyber security industry, and the Cyber Quarter will further cement our status as a capital of the rapidly expanding and cutting-edge sector. The investment is central to our ambition to attract new hi-tech investment, draw expertise and create knowledge-based, high-income jobs in the county.”

Mandy Thorn MBE, Chair of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “A huge part of the LEP’s decade of success is the fostering of new partnerships between the public, private and academic sectors. The Midlands Centre for Cyber Security is a landmark example of what we can achieve by working together.

“Developed with LEP investment of £3m from our Growth Deal with Government, it is one of a number of Herefordshire projects that the LEP has supported as part of its £18.8m overall investment into the Zone that will deliver innovation, progress and high-value jobs.”

Andrew Manning Cox, Chairman of the Hereford Enterprise Zone, added: “The opening of this building cements Skylon Park, and the wider Herefordshire area, as the natural home for cyber security research and innovation in this country.

“We are already home to a cluster of businesses working within the sector and the centre will be vital to building on this expertise as we develop our cyber campus, helping companies based here to tap into a £64.5 billion global market.”

Supported by the university’s Wolverhampton Cyber Research Institute (WCRI), the centre offers space for up to 16 cyber SMEs as well as offering product testing and certification, CPD and short courses and cyber conferences attracting experts from across the globe.

The project, a partnership that included Speller Metcalfe, Hybrid Structures, Associated Architects, Cundall, Ramboll, Gleeds and Couch Perry Wilkes as well as the University’s Estates and Facilities Team, recently scooped a Building Project of the Year Award as well as being announced joint winners for the Integration & Collaborative Working Award at the Constructing Excellence West Midlands Awards held in November.

Anyone interested in professional development courses or businesses looking for incubation space can find out more about the Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security on the website.

For more information contact the Corporate Communications Team

Three Counties Defence and Security Expo 3CDSE

Thursday 4th November 2021

The UK’s most diverse and forward-thinking defence and security expo.

3CDSE is an active touchpoint for leading-edge technology and strategic thinking, bringing together the UK’s leading innovators to create a forum for mutually beneficial commercial discussions between industry, armed forces, government, law enforcement and emergency services.

3CDSE is a unique showcase of innovative defence and security SME’s. Whilst the focus is on creating a showcase for SMEs directly to MOD Capability and Procurement teams, we are delighted to welcome larger organisations who may act as an interface between SMEs and the purchaser. The event was initiated by the Three Counties Defence & Security Group (3CDSG), a member trade association with its roots in the Three Counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.

3CDSG hosts 3CDSE on its ‘home turf’, aiming to foster networking and the sharing of new ideas with those involved in the industry both nationally and internationally.

The show brings together senior military leading forces development and procurement, senior police engaged in the fight against cyber-crime, the intelligence and security agencies, and the industry innovators who supply them, to identify future strategies and needs.

Cited from 3CDSE website:

Welcome – 3CDSE 2021 – The UK’s most diverse and forward-thinking security expo

DCMS New programme to spark wave of growth in UK’s thriving cyber sector

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

Innovative cyber startups, small businesses and scaleups will benefit from a new scheme to help them launch and grow their businesses while spreading wealth and opportunity across the UK.

Cyber Runway will see entrepreneurs and businesses across the four nations get access to business masterclasses, mentoring, product development support, networking events and backing to trade internationally and secure investment so they can turn their ideas into commercial successes.

The new programme – funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and delivered by Plexal in partnership with CyLon, Deloitte and The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) – aims to support at least 160 organisations and companies over the course of six months.

The cyber security sector is one of the UK’s tech success stories with revenue growing 7 per cent in the last financial year and the number of companies increasing by 21 per cent. The sector is now worth £8.9 billion.

Companies participating in DCMS’s cyber growth initiatives in the past have, on average, more than tripled their revenues year on year.

Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said:

The UK’s cyber sector is booming and we’re working tirelessly to ensure the benefits are felt by businesses and individuals right across the country.

Our new Cyber Runway programme will help tackle barriers to growth, increase investment and give firms vital support to take their businesses to the next level.

Cyber Runway will promote growth across the UK with a particular focus on Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, the North East, North West and South West of England to support the government’s levelling up agenda. Much of the activity will build on the success of emerging cyber hubs such as Cheltenham, Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The programme will also support founders and innovators from a diverse range of backgrounds – targeting applicants from underrepresented groups in the UK’s cyber sector such as women and people from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Saj Huq, director of innovation at Plexal, said:

COVID-19 has catalysed the need for effective cyber security across industries, and a record level of capital is being invested into the sector. But there is still a need for support for businesses at the earliest stages of their development and innovators and entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities still face barriers when entering the ecosystem.

These are challenges we look forward to addressing with Cyber Runway by supporting the best innovators, regardless of their background or geography, to thrive and grow.

Nick Morris, CEO at CyLon, said:

The UK’s cyber security ecosystem is at a critical and exciting point in its development, with both new challenges and new opportunities having arisen out of the pandemic. Through its Launch, Grow and Scale streams, we believe Cyber Runway will be able to help a diverse range of entrepreneurs, startups and scaleups capitalise on this.

Cyber Runway will support UK innovators to develop the crucial security technologies that will safeguard the future of our digital economy. We are very pleased to be a part of this initiative alongside DCMS and our fantastic partners Plexal, CSIT and Deloitte.

Louise Cushnahan, head of innovation at CSIT, said:

CSIT has a strong reputation for providing support to cyber startups through their various growth stages.

We are delighted to bring our expertise to Cyber Runway to collaborate with cyber companies and entrepreneurs bringing innovative cyber solutions to market.

Cyber Runway is part of the government’s wider work to develop the UK’s strength in cyber as we build back better after the pandemic and improve prosperity and security.

Expressions of interest from applicants, mentors and investors can now be made.

Notes to editors:

DCMS press office is on 020 7211 2210.

Cyber Runway follows a number of other DCMS-funded cyber programmes which have now completed. These include HutZero, Cyber 101 and Tech Nation’s cyber accelerator for scaleups.

Cyber Runway is looking for expressions of interest from potential applicants, mentors and investors.

New programme to spark wave of growth in UK’s thriving cyber sector – GOV.UK (

Cyber is jewel in UK tech crown – report welcomed

Business leaders at Skylon Park today welcomed a new report which  revealed the UK’s growing cyber industry attracted record investment last year despite the global pandemic.

The DCMS Annual Cyber Sector Report, which tracks the UK’s cyber security industry, found the number of active firms in the sector increased by 21 per cent in the last year.

Andrew manning cox

Andrew Manning Cox is Chairman of the Hereford Enterprise Zone, Skylon Park, which is home to the new £9m Cyber Quarter – Midlands Centre for Cyber Security.

He said: “The report shows how vital the fast-growing cyber sector is to the national economic recovery, worth an estimated £8.9 billion, with a record £800 million of investment raised by firms.

“This region has already been identified as the fastest growing hotspot for cyber outside London, so it holds enormous potential for Herefordshire’s future prosperity too.

“Skylon Park is the only enterprise zone in the UK which has a defence and security sector focus.

“We are seeing high numbers of enquiries from potential investors currently – both looking to invest on Cyber Quarter as well as take advantage of some of the specialist services on offer to help protect businesses from cyber threats at the new centre too.”

The new report showed a nine per cent rise in employment in the industry with more than 3,800 new full time jobs created, bringing the total number of people working in the sector to 46,683.

The sector is now worth an estimated £8.9 billion, with a record £800 million of investment raised by firms.

Digital Minister Matt Warman, at the launch of the report, said: “The need for cutting-edge cyber security has never been greater and this resilient sector is growing, diversifying and solidifying its status as a jewel in the UK’s tech crown.

“With more than 3,800 new jobs created, firms – large and small – are doing vital work keeping people and businesses secure online so we can build back safer from the pandemic.”

The main findings from the report are:

  • Despite the current economic climate, 2020 was a new record year for cyber security investment with UK cyber security businesses raising over £821 million across 73 deals – more than twice that raised in 2019
  • The sector’s total annual revenue has continued to rise (by 7 per cent), reaching £8.9 billion within the most recent financial year
  • The sector contributed more than £4 billion to the economy – up 6 per cent in the last year, with mainly mature firms driving growth
  • The majority (65 per cent) of the 46,683 cyber workforce are employed by large firms (250+ employees).