C5 is pleased to announce the launch of its Cybersecurity Laboratory, which will be based out of the C5 offices in Sanabis, Bahrain (Manama).

The goal of the lab is to drive better awareness and encourage the development of solutions to address the ever-growing threat of cyberattacks in the MENA region. The lab will also help to create groups of qualified individuals that can both face the challenges and seize the opportunities of a fast growing cybersecurity market.

Cybersecurity is an important regional issue as businesses become increasingly digital. Whilst all industries are at risk of cyberattack, financial services, governments, healthcare, transport and manufacturing are the most commonly targeted. According to IBM, it takes on average 229 days for a business to realise that a ‘hack’ has occurred, by which time it is often too late to salvage, data, money and reputation. Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chairman, president and CEO, believes “Cybercrime is the greatest threat to every company in the world.” Some experts estimate that by 2019 the cost of Cybercrime to businesses around the globe will be approximately $2.1 trillion.

Hadyah Fathalla, Executive Director of C5, said: “The resurfacing of the Shamoon virus that crippled Aramco’s computers in 2012, was described by Former U.S. Defence Secretary, Panetta as the most destructive cyber-attack on a private business. This is just one of many attacks that highlight’s the very real threat of cybercrime in the region. Through our work with disruptive tech companies in the Cloud10 ‘Scalerator’ programme, we have identified that the cybersecurity market, especially in the region, is suffering from a skills shortage. Bahrain’s proximity to Saudi and its continued growth in finance and ICT, among other relevant industries, positions it well to serve as a regional hub.”

 Ron Moultrie, Chairman of C5A and Former Director of Operations, US National Security Agency, said: “The GCC region is witnessing some very sophisticated cyber-attacks. C5 sees the threat landscape becoming more advanced and targeted, influenced in part, by the geopolitical situation in the region and the challenges brought on by major growth in Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud. C5 and its portfolio companies are proud to be playing a role in this important arena.”

The Lab will draw on C5’s network of expertise to enhance cybersecurity awareness in the Middle East. On a regional level, the lab will be structured to include seminars and training sessions. It also hopes to serve as an arena for strengthening partnerships between the public and private sectors.

On an international level, the Lab will aim to provide workshops for GCC governments and enterprises as well as opportunities to invest in training and education on increasing data security, in addition to encouraging cybersecurity-related trade between Bahrain and the Gulf.

C5 has been working closely with the government, key industry players, and promising technology start-ups in the region to help grow and nurture the ICT ecosystem through its Cloud10 programme. The Kingdom is uniquely positioned to benefit from transformative technologies and developments in the cybersecurity sphere to become a regional leader and centre for excellence.

At the launch of the Cybersecurity Lab, Ron Moultrie, Chairman of C5A and Former Director of Operations, US National Security Agency gave an address followed by presentations by C5’s portfolio of Cybersecurity companies from Europe, who presented their unique solutions.

Ron Moultrie commented: “This initiative will bring together the best cross-industry and sector minds to build awareness and better understanding, explore and develop cutting edge solutions, and inspire innovation in the cybersecurity space to address the growing challenges. It is an honour for me to participate in the opening of the Cyber Lab. This represents an incredible opportunity for Bahrain and the GCC to become an area of excellence in this field.”

The Companies who presented included Balabit, a leading provider of contextual security technologies who help prevent data breaches without constraining business activity. Another of C5’s portfolio companies, ITC provides assured IT and through NetSure360° which provides infrastructure and security services (“MSS”) to some of the best-known companies in the UK. Also present was Omada, a technology leader in the strategically important Identity Governance & Administration market.

Tom Millar, Chief Executive Officer of ITC Secure said: “The next 3 years are going to be hugely defining in Cyber Security as more and more companies will be breached, you just need to look at the statistics and the sheer volume of incidents past 12 months. Our customers will have to plan for this eventuality. With the highly sophisticated cybercriminal’s learning the very complex supply chain processes of business, with the ultimate goal of either disrupting or manipulating the supply chain for financial gain is a real threat to many with many current case studies in the market place.”

Péter Gyöngyösi, Product Manager of Behavior Analytics at Balabit said: “Privileged accounts are involved in 80 percent of data breaches: misused or hijacked accounts of users pose the highest cybersecurity risk. Organizations, being protected by the latest defensive technologies, are hackable no other way but through someone who’s already inside; we only have to look back to the latest wave of Wikileaks revelations.