Wednesday 25, October 2017 by Jessica Combes

Safe in the clouds


Hadya Fathalla, Executive Director, C5 Capital discusses the role SMEs can play in tackling cyberthreats head on.

Businesses are set to lose $8 trillion to cybercrime over the course of the next five years, according to a new report by Juniper Research.  The paper, titled The Future of Cybercrime and Security: Enterprise Threats and Mitigation 2017-2022, claims that approximately 2.8 billion personal data records could be stolen in 2017, with that number doubling to five billion three years later, and that this threat is largely due to improved  levels of internet connectivity coupled with  inadequate cybersecurity.

Internationally the world is playing catch-up, and from a strategic perspective the GCC region is realising there is a skill and knowledge gap that has to be addressed alongside the technical aspect of cybersecurity, according to Hadya Fathalla, Executive Director, C5 Capital, a London-based technology investment firm that focuses on cloud computing, big data analytics and cybersecurity. The firm has increased its presence in the region via its Bahrain office by developing a number of arms which focus on helping young, transformative tech companies by giving them the power of cloud computing.

Bahrain was selected as the launch pad for this project, which is open to the entire EMEA region, because of its deregulated telecom environment. Fathalla said the Government is very quick to respond to the needs of the business community and the start-up community, as well as providing a gateway into Saudi which is a key anchor market for a lot of young businesses.

Cybersecurity is just as much a concern in Bahrain as the rest of the world and Fathalla said there are three key issues that need to be taken into consideration. The first is a more accurate and robust understanding of the threat itself; the second is the ability to address the threat from a technical perspective; and the third is upskilling the workforce to be capable of addressing these threats, particularly in light of global attacks such as WannaCry and Petya. These attacks highlighted vulnerabilities that everyone is facing; as people become more connected and more technologically advanced they become equally more vulnerable.

“I think we continue to be blindsided by new, more sophisticated attacks that are becoming much easier to deploy by people sitting at home. You do not need much to deploy into cyberspace, you can do it from the comfort of your living room and by kids so young they’re not even in high school yet. It’s lucrative and it’s destructive,” said Fathalla.

She added that from a strategic perspective governments and businesses in the region have also acknowledged that be able to build the technical solution to address these attacks, there has to be an awareness and an appreciation of the risk, and the ability to be able to upskill the workforce that can adjust accordingly.

Officials have called for more cybersecurity cooperation in the GCC during the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference (GISEC) held in Dubai in May this year. They warned that cyberattacks could target critical infrastructure such as airports, oil installations, banks and tourism networks.

This is a space where SMEs can thrive. At the beginning of 2017 C5 Capital launched its cybersecurity lab specifically to address these three issues, to spread awareness about where threats lie, what can be done about them, to conduct research and development in the space, and to help businesses upscale.

“Cybersecurity has been identified as one of the most underserved areas, not because there is a lack of interest in serving it but because there is a genuine lack of people who can and that is where there is a huge opportunity for young SMEs to build in that space. There are a lot of new businesses that are building some exceptional solutions in the start-up and scale-up space; I think that is where the future of cybersecurity is going to be focused. That is why as a company we focus on young cybersecurity companies as well as a key area not only from an investment perspective but also from an acceleration perspective,” said Fathalla.

She added that there is a company focus on transformative tech and B2B companies because it is believed that these are the areas where there are going to be gaps in the industry and human capital, and companies should be encouraged to look at these areas and build on them. It will be these young companies that can service other young and growing companies in the areas of cybersecurity, fintech, smart cities, and robotics, when the giants become too expensive or even slightly outdated.

2017 security changes by cyberattack victims:
52% have no changes planned.
31% are making changes to their security plan.
17% are not sure.

2017 budget forecast for cyberattack victims:

45% expect the budget to remain the same.
38% expect the budget to increase.
10% are unsure.
7% expect the budget to decrease.

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