Paul C Dwyer, CEO of Cyber Risk International talks to Deanna O’Connor about the fight against cyber evil.
It’s the stuff young boys’ dreams are made of, growing up to be a crime-fighting superhero. Of all the ones who ever dreamed, one man has made it his reality. Paul C Dwyer, cyber security expert and CEO of Cyber Risk International, has made it his business. From Scotland Yard, to the FBI to MI5, the roster of organisations he has worked with reads straight out of a James Bond script.
Today’s villains are a much lazier bunch than those of old-fashioned crime capers though. It’s now possible to become a master criminal from the comfort of an internet café, without ever setting foot out in the mean streets. Cyber wars are being fought online and the secret agents are more ‘hacker in a hoodie’ than Mata Hari.
Dwyer is in the lucky position to be working in an area where he really feels a passion and motivation to do what he does. As he says, “This is fighting the bad guys. Cybercrime sounds sexy but there are real victims. They are dark, sinister actors that prey on the vulnerable and the consequences are all too real in the real physical world.”
There is as much reward seeing the team blossoming and thriving as the business
Fighting crime wasn’t necessarily his boyhood dream though. Dwyer is a self-confessed born entrepreneur, from cutting grass and revamping bicycles and selling them on as a teenager, to starting his first business aged 18. Dwyer is a security expert first and foremost, and says it is essential to his business to maintain a finger on the pulse.
He is firm in this: “As CEO I have had to move away from the nitty-gritty and be the leader, be the visionary, and let my team support me. If we care and protect our clients, the commercial success continues. The better we serve our clients, the more we innovate and help, then the more successful we will continue to be.”
AN ECLECTIC TEAM
With a background in technology, he didn’t come to the role of CEO through a management school route, but has picked up the key lesson along the way – that people are the business’s greatest asset. “It’s really important to the business that we are leveraging the talent that we have and bringing people along in their careers,” he enthuses.
“It can be hard to find people with the right experience for what we do, but in many cases we have spotted talent straight from college and we nurture and grow them with the business. As CEO there is as much reward seeing the parallels of the team blossoming and thriving as with the business,” he continues. “My eclectic team have common denominators including they care about the ‘fight’ against cyber evil, they care about our clients and they strive to be the best they can be. I am very proud of all of them.”
We need to restrategise and position ourselves for the next phase of delivering our services globally
Between the rapid rise of Cyber Risk International and the growth of the International Cyber Threat Task Force (ICTTF), a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2011 that connects cyber security experts from around the world, the last few years have been a whirlwind for Dwyer. “Some have described us as ‘an overnight success after 20 years’ and that’s not far from accurate. Our business growth has been significant in the last couple of years. Despite a rapid growth rate, we took some brave decisions and paused to catch our breath. We need to restrategise and position ourselves for the next phase of delivering our services globally,” he continues.
“In order to achieve that, we have developed our own cyber security software and managed service for financial sectors. The future is very bright and exciting. I’m all for the green-jersey approach and Ireland is the ideal place for this company; we work with companies all over the world but there’s so much going on in our own back garden – we leverage the best of Irish innovation at every chance.”