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Ex-NCSC boss Ciaran Martin joins cyber venture capital outfit

Outgoing NCSC CEO Ciaran Martin is to take up a new role guiding new investments in cyber security

Early stage venture capital investor Paladin has hired outgoing National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) CEO – and former GCHQ cyber security lead – Ciaran Martin to its global strategic advisory board, guiding the firm on threats, trends, risks and opportunities in the security sector.

The role, which comes in addition to a previously announced post as professor of practice at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, will see Martin assist in the development of Paladin’s presence in the growing market around early stage security firms around Europe.

Paladin has previously invested in a number of European security firms including CyberHedge, Dashbird, Digital Shadows, DPOrganizer, Elliptic, Panaseer, RangeForce, Secure Code Warrior and Teraki. Investment in the UK cyber security scene has notably spiked this year, with over £500m being ploughed into new startups as of July, according to stats released by the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (Lorca), a startup and scaleup incubator.

Michael Steed, Paladin founder and managing partner, said: “Ciaran Martin is an exceptional talent in the cyber sphere and we’re profoundly pleased to have him join the Paladin team. His understanding of the ever-evolving threat landscape and knowledge of the technologies required to meet those challenges will help us assess potential investments and support our portfolio companies in their growth.

“At Paladin we focus on companies that have a ‘dual lens’, that is, they provide services to government and commercial customers. Ciaran’s experience working across the public and private sectors to develop cyber solutions will be invaluable for the companies we back.”

Martin added: “I learned in government that whether it’s in the UK, Europe, the US or globally, the common cyber threats we face can only be solved if there is a strong, innovative private sector taking care of huge swathes of the problem.

“That presents enormous economic opportunities for talented technologists and entrepreneurs and I’m looking forward to being part of a venture capital team helping them to succeed,” he said.

A study conducted by Nominet earlier this month reflected the importance of public-private collaboration on security issues, with government security leaders particularly keen on forging closer ties with the private sector.

A total of 65% of government security leaders thought the pace of change was too slow in comparison to enterprise, and 81% believed that this could negatively impact the UK’s national security – the same proportion thought working hand-in-hand with the private sector could speed things up.

“The appetite for more collaboration between the private and public sector across US, UK and Middle Eastern governments is a great testament to the results already achieved by these sorts of projects,” said Nominet NTX managing director David Carroll.

“Take Active Cyber Defence and the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP) in the UK to name a couple. It does beg the question, however, of ‘what more should we be doing?’ If those within government are still keen to move the needle and they feel that industry can help them, we need to be doing more to facilitate an environment where this can take place.

“Much of this is about taking joint responsibility across industry and government for cyber security projects,” he said. “Whether it is nurturing talent and ideas across public and private sector spheres or investment in accelerators and initiatives that bring together the best minds in cyber to protect us.

“By working together we limit risk and achieve more, so we should make it a priority to be looking for those opportunities and removing obstacles that might be standing in their way. The old adage ‘it takes a village’ could never be truer.”

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