The new year started pretty well for Dubai-based cyber security startup Spidersilk. It has just raised 500,000 US dollars during a fundraising organized by several business angels. A good news that should position it as a leader in the sector in the Middle East.
It is not surprising to see this young start-up founded a year ago starting 2020 with such momentum. One of its co-founders, Rami El Malak, is an entrepreneur at heart. Before launching his cyber security start-up with his business partner, Mossab Hussein (former product manager at Careem and Taskspotting), he already had 20 years of entrepreneurship behind him.
While just finishing his studies in finance at the famous McGill University in Montreal, he launched his first company, which won the award for the best internet solution in 1998. A year later, he moved to Dubai and created one of the first digital agencies in the UAE. The beginning of a long series of successes and business creations that have been going on for years. We met with him to talk about the services he offers to his clients but also the challenges of cyber security for businesses today.
What led you to start a cybersecurity business?
We had an inkling that there weren’t many regional technology companies in the cybersecurity space. When we started getting these international findings we realized that our technology wasn’t just unique in our region but that it’s efficacy was world class and so that was the catalyst to raise funding and an expand on our ability to protect regional and global communities.
— MENAbytes (@MENAbytes) January 7, 2020
In which fields the different companies Spidersilk assist are found ?
We work with both public and private institutions, both internationally and regionally, and we cover a wide spectrum of industries from Telecom, Financial to Healthcare, Automotive and Technology firms.
What are the main reasons they ask for your services?
Being digital first is a goal to many organizations given the competitive market landscape. And while rapid digital transformation opens up new opportunities for growth, the intertwining of complex systems provides the right climate for security exploits and breaches.
What are the type of services you provide for your clients?
As the old military adage goes, the best defense is a good offence, so using our proprietary technology, we focus on simulating the most advanced cyber-attacks so that we can help organizations build their defensive capabilities.
What does it look like in practice?
Traditional simulations involve leveraging the skillsets of security researchers and hackers. We’ve elevated this by building machine powered technology which enhances the capabilities of our human hackers, and in a way makes them “super-hackers”. As a result we’ve been able to achieve very high impact simulations. This has been validated by international findings that we have outlined via a number of responsible public disclosures on CNN, TechCrunch, Forbes, Vice, Mashable etc..
What are the main challenges your companies face usually ?
We see companies address cybersecurity when it is too late, when they have been hit by an attack or ransomware and so their approach is reactive and not proactive. In the final analysis, organizations look at all forms of risk when operating, whether it is physical risk or financial risk, and cyber-risk is one of the facets that require attention. Cyber is no longer an afterthought, it needs to be baked into the business at all levels.
What are the obstacles you met in your business?
There is common expression in cybersecurity that there are 2 types of organizations: ones that got hacked and knew about it, and the ones that got hacked but didn’t. A challenge we sometimes face is when certain companies do not realize the seriousness of cyber-risk and end up jeopardizing their reputations as well as the sensitive data of their customers who entrusted them.
Why cybersecurity is key for companies today?
Everything is digital now, and cyber threat actors are not only more sophisticated than ever, they also democratized in the sense that for $200 of open source tools, anyone can begin hacking. It is no longer in the realm of nation states or cybercrime syndicates. So companies have to protect themselves from IP theft, data leakage, financial losses or reputation damage more than ever before.
You have just raised 500000$. What are your business projects with this money?
We are about to complete productizing our internal technology so it can be offered as a security-as-a-service for any company to easily subscribe to. The opportunity for us is now a global one.