Newly formed CyberCX scoops up two of Australia's cyber heavyweights

Former Optus Business MD John Paitaridis and government cyber veteran Alastair MacGibbon join the new company backed by private equity firm BGH Capital.

Alastair MacGibbon, former head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and once Special Adviser on Cyber Security to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has assumed a new role with CyberCX.

The newly formed CyberCX, backed by private equity firm BGH Capital, brings together 12 of Australia's independent cybersecurity brands: Alcorn, Assurance, Asterisk, CQR, Diamond, Enosys, Klein&Co., Phriendly Phishing, Sense of Security, Shearwater, TSS, and YellIT.

The firm MacGibbon is now chief strategy officer of has labelled itself as the "nation's pre-eminent full-service cybersecurity firm".

CyberCX is led by John Paitaridis, who was formerly Optus Business' managing director.

It is expected the new firm will have 25 offices throughout the country and employ around 400 staff.

Speaking with ZDNet about the creation of CyberCX, cybersecurity industry analyst and founder of CISO Lens James Turner said he is "hugely" in favour of the move. Turner believes it's important that the Australian market demonstrates its own maturity through self-consolidation, rather than having all of the country's best and brightest picked off by multinationals.

"Predictably, each of the businesses that are involved in this conglomerate will retain most of their own clients, and as time passes there will be more opportunities for client sharing," Turner added.

"That's great for the group."

Turner said that in the short to medium term, each of the partner firms will continue to operate as their own entity under the CyberCX banner.

"I think that's a very astute approach because it can be a nightmare trying to smash organisations together in a hurry looking for backend synergies," he continued.

"The capability that CyberCX brings, on paper, will be a dream come true for a huge range of mid-tier and even 'large but local' organisations, especially government.

"CyberCX has the potential to quickly establish itself as the one-stop shop that, perhaps most importantly, isn't one of the others competing in this field."

Turner shared his views on a previous amalgamation undertaken by Australian firms and suggested a key factor for CyberCX's success will be the relationships between the founders of the firms.

"Keeping the founders all happy, all working together, and all on the same page will be absolutely critical," he said.

"This is where I think Alastair MacGibbon will be pivotal. Almac is an industry figurehead and has a track record of bringing almost superhuman energy to the mission."

MacGibbon tendered his resignation from the ACSC in May, ahead of the 2019 federal election. At the time he said his plan was to return to the private sector.

MacGibbon led the ACSC since January 2018, when it first became part of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), where he oversaw the transition of other parts of government into the newly-independent ASD as it became a statutory authority

In addition to being hand-picked by Turnbull to provide guidance on all things cyber, he also held the title of National Cyber Security Adviser at the Department of Home Affairs, where he was charged with the implementation of government's Cyber Security Strategy.

MacGibbon also oversaw the completion of the network of Joint Cyber Security Centres (JCSC) for coordination with the private sector, a reshaping of the government's Information Security Manual (ISM), and a tightening of access controls for government systems as part of a new Essential Eight Maturity Model.

Paitaridis, meanwhile, left Optus in March. Prior to Optus, he spent 13 years with Telstra and is still chairman of the Australian Information Industry Association.

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