Leeds Talent Pool Attracts BlueVoyant's First UK Security Operations Center

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New York-based cybersecurity company BlueVoyant has opened its first UK security operations center (SOC) in Leeds, Yorkshire.

The inauguration event took place on April 23 in the presence of BlueVoyant’s co-founder and CEO, James Rosenthal, and the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite.

The SOC will start running 24/7 starting in July 2024.

It will monitor BlueVoyant clients’ networks and digital ecosystems and mitigate threats. The office will also host a Customer Experience Centre, allowing BlueVoyant clients, business partners, and local organizations to learn about the latest cybersecurity threats and best response tactics.

BlueVoyant will also use the new facility to educate clients on how to comply with incoming regulations, such as the EU’s second Network and Information Systems Directive (NIS 2) and Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA).

Regulation compliance guidelines are displayed at the BlueVoyant's Leeds office. Credit: Infosecurity Magazine
Regulation compliance guidelines are displayed at the BlueVoyant's Leeds office. Credit: Infosecurity Magazine

Leeds Attractive Talent Pool

Holly Steele is the firm’s senior vice president for EMA, UK, and Ireland. During the launch event, she said that Leeds’ talent pool was the main reason for choosing the northern England city for its SOC.

“There are already many SOCs in Leeds, as well as headquarters of major organizations like Asda and NHS England, which means we have a big talent pool at our disposal. We are also close to many internationally recognized universities in Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, and Derby. Finally, it’s very easy to get to both London and Edinburgh from Leeds, which allows us to cater to the needs of our customers in England and Scotland,” she explained.

Milan Patel, BlueVoyant’s global head of managed detection and response (MDR), insisted on the importance of having physical locations for SOCs. “No matter how you move in the post-COVID world, customers and partners still want a physical location where humans work together,” he said.

In her speech, the Leeds Lord Mayor, Councillor Al Garthwaite, praised the company for employing local people, especially women.

“Something that’s particularly pleased me is that BlueVoyant has been able to employ 20 people from the local area, including women. There was a time when cybersecurity, and everything digital, was very much a boy’s game, and women had some trouble breaking in. These times have changed,” she said.

Hollie Mowatt, a SOC manager at BlueVoyant, will head the Leeds SOC.

In 2023, Lloyd’s Bank named Leeds as the UK’s fastest-growing digital economy.

Managed SOC Clients Need Human Intelligence

Andrew Bentley, the enterprise security solutions lead at BlueVoyant partner Microsoft, was also present at the ceremony.

Speaking to Infosecurity, he said this investment was “huge for local clients of both BlueVoyant and Microsoft in this area, as they need such services on shore.”

Steele added that some major BlueVoyant technology partners, including Microsoft and Splunk, which do not have a presence in the north of England, will be able to use the Leeds facility for meetings and events with their clients.

Oscar Neill, CISO at Beeks Group, a BlueVoyant client, told Infosecurity that meeting SOC analysts in person is essential when outsourcing your SOC.

“It’s great to have SOC experts who can monitor your threats 24/7, but as a client, you also need intelligence when they send alerts to you; you need the human aspect of what they are investigating,” he concluded.

Leeds SOC is BlueVoyant’s second in Europe after opening one in Budapest, Hungary, in September 2022.

Finally, Steele announced that a new BlueVoyant SOC will open in Cork, Ireland, within the next few months.

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