'Wales has become a hub for cyber defence and cyber security' says industry expert

Ffion Gruffudd is regarded as one of the world's leading cyber security lawyers.   Credit: Ffion Gruffudd

Ffion Gruffudd who grew up in the Gwendraeth Valley in Carmarthenshire is regarded as one of the world's leading cyber security lawyers.  

Ffion says the risk of cyber attacks has “exploded”, and continues to worsen. She says that the use of ransomware, a tool used by criminals to lock up a company’s systems and steal data, has become “a huge thing in the last few years.”

When asked on ITV Cymru Wales’ programme Face to Face about how prepared Wales is against cyber threats, Ffion said that “I think people are aware of the risks and are taking the risks seriously… the next step is making sure we have our defences in place."

She added that "in fact Wales has become a hub for cyber defence and cyber security. From the point of view of encouraging cyber skills amongst young people”.

As well as the number of “start ups in Wales that are dealing with cyber security”. 

In addition to defending against these attacks, Ffion says we are starting to see more successful counter attacks, “the agencies across the world are collaborating to try and take down these criminal gangs.” 

This week saw an affiliate of one of the most harmful ransomware gangs, LockBit, jailed and fined following a multinational campaign to infiltrate the group’s network. 

Ffion Gruffudd with Adrian Masters on Face to Face Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The Welsh Government announced a cyber action plan in May 2023 to encourage collaboration in the industry on jobs, skills and security.

The minister behind the plan, Vaughan Gething MS said a key aim is encouraging more younger people into the sector.

"We are committed to shaping a more diverse sector that is driven by talent and not held back by glass ceilings and Wales already sets strong example with one of the most active ‘Women in Cyber clusters’ in the UK.

“The innovation across our sector makes Wales an attractive offer for those working in cyber and a great place to build businesses in the industry. As well as creating opportunities and jobs, it stimulates the development of cyber skills which in turn makes our businesses and public services more resilient to cyber threats."

After studying Law and Politics, Ffion took on a job at a law firm in London.

She worked with various major banks investigating computer fraud. It was this experience that really got her interested in this element of the law and cyber security in particular. 

When discussing the life of a high-flying lawyer, Ffion talked about the stresses and challenges that come with the job.

Especially in the early years of a young lawyer's career, as they try to establish themselves within their field. She recalled “working all hours” during her 20s. 

Often “working all-nighters, as I had a pillow under my desk. The cleaners would wake me up in the morning” when she would fall asleep at her desk. 

It was during these years as a lawyer that her dad gave her the advice to find the right balance in life. Ffion didn’t necessarily see this as a warning to slow down, but to find other things that bring me joy”. 

One of those other things that has brought Ffion a lot of joy is her love of music which has recently led her to starting a new recording studio back home in the heart of Carmarthenshire called ‘Coco and Cwtsh’.

Ffion describes it as "a haven for artists, filmmakers and visionaries”.

When talking about this next chapter she said that it “is the thing that brings me the most joy”.

When starting 'Coco and Cwtsh' it was important to her to have it back home in Wales as her Welsh identity is “hugely important, I mean Wales just courses through my veins.”

She said that she wants “to try and give back to the community that gave me everything”. 

When talking about her identity Ffion touched on her love for Wales and the Welsh language: “I think it makes you. The language in particular is colourful, and so much of the culture is bound up in the language, it is hugely important”. 

Catch up with Face To Face on ITVX.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...