According to an annual report on top corporate risks published by Allianz Risk Barometer earlier this year, cyber risk ranked third in 2021, up from fifteenth in 2013. This rapid increase is due to the fact that cybercrime is getting out of control. In 2020, malware and ransomware incidents increased by one third over the year before, costing businesses across the globe US$6.3 billion.
One report issued by Vistage and Cisco, estimates that 60 per cent of small-to-medium sized businesses that are hacked end up closing down within six months. If it doesn’t destroy the company, it severely devastate them through business disruption, lost contracts, reduced customer trust, and increased premiums.
The phenomenal speed and scale at which companies require cybersecurity solutions, make it a thriving space for budding entrepreneurs. Here we look at five cybersecurity businesses that are leading the charge and ask what can be learnt from them.
Let’s start with a home-grown success story. DarkMatter is a UAE-based cyber security company. Its complete portfolio of cyber security solutions aims to help create smart and safe digital societies.
Among its core practices is helping businesses and governments harness advanced and bespoke technologies to strengthen their defence and security. DarkMatter also focus heavily on the value of education, through their DigitalE1 program, which seeks to advance knowledge transformation by training and embedding digital talent in a company’s services, thus preparing them for whatever the future brings.
What can we learn from DarkMatter?
DarkMatter’s approach is to assess a company’s (or government body’s) current situation, then take them on an entire journey of transformation. Consider whether your startup is equipped to carry out such an assessment, then effectively communicate this approach to a client who might be expecting a single solution, rather than a longer period of cyber security transformation (and education) that may touch every aspect of their business.
Founded in 2010, KnowBe4 offers what they call new school cyber security awareness training and a simulated phishing platform to match. Their main pitch is that most cybersecurity companies are stuck in the past and are not up with how the new wave of hackers are accessing our information. The platform allows companies to train staff in cyber awareness, and then actually phish them to see if threats still exist.
The company’s approach and concept are seen as innovative and that is why in 2020 KnowBe4 was announced as a Black Unicorn – a cybersecurity company that is likely to reach a US$1 billion market valuation.
What can we learn from KnowBe4?
Cybercrime is full of ‘black swan’ events. That is why they are often highly unpredictable and seem obvious with hindsight. KnowBe4 recognised this and tried to create a platform that can help users predict the unpredictable. Doing so made them stand out from the crowd.
This nicely highlights one of a startup’s main challenges in this area, that by focusing on known threats the market often becomes rapidly crowded with strong players. The best entry point, therefore, is where most have yet to even realise there is a threat at all.
3. Cado Security
You might say that it is a bit early to view a company founded in 2020 as leading the charge in cybersecurity, and you are probably right. However, despite Cado Security being a young startup, it has already received US$1.5 Million in funding.
Cado is attracting attention because it offers the first cloud-native forensics and response platform. In other words, it allows rapid response to threats that occur in cloud container environments, something most traditional cybersecurity platforms struggle to offer.
What can we learn from Cado Security?
Cado came to market at the right moment. The global COVID-19 pandemic risked turning the situation into a cyber pandemic as well. With more people working from home, using personal computers, and accessing data from cloud platforms than ever before, the failure of a global cloud provider could be just the kind of black swan event we do not see coming.
To succeed in this current COVID-19 era, technology providers and businesses must quickly rethink their strategies to accommodate a changing security landscape. But, as we all know, large companies often fail to respond to change quickly, leaving opportunities for more agile startups to flood the market.
Other companies are approaching the problem of predicting the unpredictable differently. One of those is the Darktrace Immune System, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to learn what is normal to better spot novel attacks. It learns the ‘DNA’ of a company – what are normal emails, contacts, and behaviour – then provides an appropriate and proportioned response if something out of the ordinary is detected.
Darktrace is not the only company offering AI to defend against cyber threats – Vectra and ExtraHop do as well. However, they are leading players, with their platform being utilised by several big businesses, including the McLaren Formula 1 team.
What can we learn from Darktrace?
The use of AI and machine learning is still in its infancy when it comes to fighting cybercrime, and there is still plenty of space for entrepreneurs to offer innovative solutions. Last year, cybercriminals used AI-generated audio responses to impersonate the CEO of company and trick a colleague into wiring over US$ 200,000 straight into the scammer’s bank account. Combating these deepfakes is a real challenge for even the biggest cybersecurity companies, and so a true hotspot for startup innovation.
There are few cyber security companies bigger and more well-known than McAfee. It was one of the first to market way back in 1987 and caters for governments, companies, and home users.
By the end of 2020, it floated on the stock market and reported revenues of US$748 Million, up 10 per cent from the previous year.
What can we learn from McAfee?
McAfee has so many solutions that make the company an easy option for anyone looking to quickly add or bump up their protection. The question is whether it is the right one or not? Answering this can be challenging.
Choosing the right cybersecurity provider
As we have seen, there are a lot of cybersecurity software options out there. Yet, knowing if your threats are best neutralised by your choice of software is difficult without hours of research. Plenty of websites offer advice on choosing the right cybersecurity software, and plenty of companies offer consultancy. Platforms that take a company’s information and make recommendations specific to its needs are a scattered few.
Challenges pave the way for solutions
The challenges built by cyber criminals are fast becoming a global problem, which could rapidly get out of control if not addressed at early stages. Combatting them requires smart and innovative solutions, exactly the kind of thinking we expect from entrepreneurs and startups.
Maybe your company could be the next cybercrime superhero.