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A spotlight on…Thales – Leading the Way in OT Cyber Security and Resilience

Leading the Way in OT Cyber Security and Resilience

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Developing expertise and market distinctiveness for Wales and UK plc as a global centre of excellence in cyber security and resilience for Operational Technology (OT).

Thales Ebbw Vale campus, a £20 million joint investment launched in 2019 in collaboration with the Welsh Government and Universities, stands as a testament to the synergy of government, industry, and education. This unique partnership aims to develop both expertise & market distinctiveness for Wales & UK plc as a global centre of excellence in cyber security and resilience for Operational Technology (OT).

Global Presence and Strategic Collaborations

Thales, a global player with a presence in domains such as Land, Air, and Space, has chosen Wales as a focal point for the development of novel technologies and techniques in the field of OT Cyber Security. The Ebbw Vale campus, specifically designated as Thales’ global OT Cyber Competence Centre, is committed to delivering OT Security & Resilience solutions and expertise.

The campus plays a pivotal role in delivering large-scale programmes for major entities like EDF and Jaguar Land Rover. Simultaneously, it supports smaller players in the market by providing essential resources, including meeting spaces, demos hosting, training and guidance on security-related issues.

 

ResilientWorks: Driving Innovation in Autonomous Systems

A standout achievement of Thales Ebbw Vale is the development of ResilientWorks, an innovative capability designed for autonomous vehicles and power systems. This initiative not only provides niche technology companies with a platform to test and develop new technologies but also offers major industry players the opportunity to stay at the forefront of technological advancements.

 

Education as a Pillar of Innovation

The unique education programme established at Ebbw Vale is recognised internationally for its innovation. From primary school to university and industry, the program addresses critical skills gaps in the STEM field. Thales actively participates as a founding partner in the Cyber College Cymru program, supporting schools and universities in outreach activities. The weekly cyber-afterschool club activities, reaching over 300 schools, underscore Thales’ commitment to raising awareness and aspiration among learners and their families.

Thales Ebbw Vale is not just a centre for cutting-edge research and development; it is also a hub for nurturing early careers. The campus provides a spectrum of opportunities, including work experience, degree apprenticeships, bursary programs, and year-long industry placements. Thales is invested in shaping the next generation of STEM professionals, bridging the gap between education and industry.

 

What is life at Thales like?

Meet Dr. Kirsty Perrett, one of the Lead Cyber Engineers at Thales Ebbw Vale, who brings not only technical expertise but also a passion for inspiring the next generation of women in STEM. With a focus on ‘Cyber Resilience for Critical National Infrastructure,’ Kirsty’s diverse role encompasses various responsibilities:

“I thrive on leading novel research and development initiatives, contributing to Thales’ global standing in Operational Technology (OT) Cyber Security. Utilising the Cyber Range and Physical OT Equipment, I showcase how potential hackers can exploit vulnerabilities, building crucial capabilities in the ongoing fight against cyber threats.

I take pride in managing and supporting five apprenticeships in cyber security, offering mentorship to the upcoming wave of cyber experts. I also lecture Cyber College Cymru students which allows me to shape the future talent pipeline by imparting knowledge and guidance to aspiring cyber professionals.

A significant portion of my time is dedicated to serving as an OT consultant. This involves training and educating engineers, developing governance and standards, and conducting security and safety assessments on various OT plants globally.

Before joining Thales, my journey spanned over 12 years in the industry, with a significant impact on the NHS. As the first female engineer in the NHS Wales IT Team, I paved the way for other women in the field. My expertise covers critical data networks, telecommunications, security operations centres, wireless infrastructure, wearable medical technology, and operational cyber security.

I’ve been featured in various media campaigns, including Women in Cyber, SCMedia, The Engineer Magazine, and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers Council. Notably, I participated in an Amazon Prime Documentary by Curiosity Stream, reflecting my dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM.

My journey at Thales Ebbw Vale exemplifies the intersection of technical expertise, leadership, and a commitment to inspire the next generation of women in cyber security”.

 

Future Growth Plans

Looking ahead, Thales Ebbw Vale has ambitious plans for future growth. The NDEC (National Digital Exploitation Centre) project, in collaboration with manufacturing companies, focuses on securing automation systems used across industries and critical national infrastructure systems. These systems are becoming increasingly complex and ‘intelligent’ in nature against a backdrop of growing threats from increasingly sophisticated attacks. With a growing portfolio of project-based and commercial research, Thales Ebbw Vale is moving towards self-sustaining growth.

In the long term, the Ebbw Vale NDEC concept, blending research, industry partnership, and education pathways, is gaining global interest. The Government of Canada has recently announced funding for a partnership with Thales and higher education to develop NDEC Canada, and discussions are underway about potential additions to an NDEC network in key partner countries.

Thales Ebbw Vale continues to evolve as a global centre of excellence for cyber resilience in Industrial Control Systems, setting the stage for innovative collaborations and advancements in OT Cyber Security on an international scale. Thales Ebbw Vale campus stands as a shining example of successful collaboration between government, industry, and education. Thales is not only shaping the future of technology but also contributing significantly to the economic and educational landscape of Wales and the UK.

Find out more about Thales

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