Case study: Espion

“If you think about the future there is a whole raft of security issues which we have not even thought about yet. The demand for services like ours will only grow and grow.”

The warning from Colm Murphy, Director of eDiscovery & Digital Forensics and co-founder of Irish information security consultancy Espion, does not come lightly. As he adds: “The reality of the world we live in is that organisations have a duty of care to protect employees and that means protecting digital assets, whether that be patents, research, clients or bank accounts.”

Murphy says the whole security market has changed beyond recognition over the past decade. “When we first started selling security it was a luxury item and there was no compelling reason for any organisation to do security well. There was no compliance obligation, there was no board push. These days it is most definitely a board level issue.”

He believes a number of high-profile data breaches have led to the sea-change in thinking.

“Today there are serious consequences if an organisation does not do security well. If personal information is breached you have to set up infrastructure that tells those people that their data has been breached right away. The whole mechanics of cleaning up a problem can be very expensive. As we have seen from some high-profile cases, the disruption to a business can be immense.”

Murphy makes the point that in the past IT security was seen as a reason not to move to the cloud, whereas now it is the opposite. “Cloud operators operate 24/7 and cloud service providers operate highly secure data centres. Cloud adoption will only accelerate as a result of these threats.”


He adds that one such threat today is ransomware with new variants constantly emerging, each one more aggressive and destructive than the predecessor.

Murphy says a particular concern is the susceptibility of national infrastructure and automated power systems to attack. “Previously these networks were not connected via internet based systems but the fact that they are often relying on remote monitoring makes them more susceptible. Governments everywhere are not surprisingly busy trying to identify these security issues.”

Growth story

Founded in 2001, Espion is one of the fastest growing information security consultancies in Ireland, and until recently was split into separate distribution and consulting businesses.

Murphy says the company has been particularly successful in the European financial services sector with its electronic discovery programme. “Our clients can be very diverse from large global organisations through to businesses focusing on online and that rely on their web presence to run their business.”

Last year Exertis Ireland, a subsidiary of DCC, acquired the distribution division of Espion in a deal advised by Clearwater International. Then earlier this year, in a separate deal, business standards company BSI acquired the consulting division which provides a range of services including security testing and forensic services. The deal, which Clearwater also advised on, expands BSI’s Professional Services business which has grown its consultancy capability globally following acquisitions in the US.

Murphy says DCC was looking to accelerate growth in the security technologies space while Espion was keen to further grow its cloud business. “The distribution side is really scaling up these days. A lot of brands are looking for pan-European distributors.”

Regards the consulting deal he says BSI is now recognised as having globallyleading standards. “It is hard to find another organisation across the world doing what it is doing.

“The BSI has a long-term strategic view of the world and has identified information security as a key area to grow, wanting to globalise its offer rapidly. Its charter is to make the world a better place and introducing standards is the way you do that. Its standards are a mark of excellence.”

Recent transactions


Clearwater International advises on the sale of Espion to BSI

Clearwater International has advised the shareholders of Espion Group (Espion) on its sale to BSI, the business standards company.

Espion is a leading information technology and security consultancy specialising in eDiscovery, digital forensics, information governance and cloud computing.

BSI’s acquisition of Espion reinforces BSI as the authority in information resilience. BSI was the originator of the internationally recognised ISO 27000 series of Information Security Standards and is the global leader in providing training and certification to ISO 27001, the established best practice in Information Security Management Systems. BSI and Espion’s joint ambition is to develop a global centre of excellence that is at the forefront of the information resilience industry.

Read more about this deal.

Information Security Clearthought 2016 – Espion Image
Information Security Clearthought 2016 – Espion Image


Clearwater International advises on the sale of Espion Technology Distribution

Clearwater International advised the shareholders of Espion Technology Distribution (Espion TD) on the sale of the business to DCC plc.

Espion TD is a leading technology distributor in Ireland and the UK for the most disruptive and exciting technologies in the market today. It sources and distributes best in class security, storage, networking and wireless technologies to resellers and partners. Espion TD is an award winning business with exceptional brand reputation in the industry along with a strong client portfolio that is well diversified across Ireland and the UK.

Read more about this deal.