EY opens cybersecurity centre for Middle East and North Africa

15 December 2017 Consultancy-me.com

Global professional services firm EY has unveiled an advanced multimillion-dollar cybersecurity centre in Muscat to offer protection against cyber-attack for businesses located across the Middle East and North Africa.

Situated in the Omani capital, EY’s MENA Digital Security Operations Centre (DSOC) will provide comprehensive 24-hour digital security monitoring of client IT systems, operational technology, and IoT (Internet of Things) for the countries of the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) and greater MENA region, with a focus on threat "hunting" and detection. 

As the first of its kind for the region, the DSOC will utilise EY’s award-winning behavioural cybersecurity tools which can detect anomalies in data-flow to flag a potential attack, while further tracking and actively monitoring any sophisticated and evolving threats inside a client’s network to provide specific insights for appropriate countermeasures and remedial actions.

The MENA DSOC is the latest addition to EY’s global network of cybersecurity centres, developed under its growth and innovation-focused “wavespace” banner, and will correspondingly benefit from the company’s exclusive strategic alliance with cyber-analytics specialists Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

EY opens cyber-security centre for Middle East and North Africa

Yet, the region faces its own unique and growing threats, and EY describes the establishment of the new DSOC as a response to increasing demand. The centre has been designed with the capacity to serve any type of business in the region, according to Ahmed al Esry, EY Oman managing partner. However, it is expected that prospective clients could initially include government departments and larger organisations from the energy and banking sectors.

EY’s chairman and CEO for MENA, Abdulaziz Al-Sowailim, warned of the growing threat to businesses in the region; “As organisations in MENA become increasingly reliant on digital technologies, they also become more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and digital risk. There is no industry that is immune. All enterprise clients need to move to a form of 24/7 monitoring to protect their digital presence from attack regardless of industry.”

Oman on the rise

As to the company’s choice of locating their cyber-operations centre in Oman, Esry says, “The aim is to make the sultanate a hub for cybersecurity operations in the region serving clients across the Middle East and North Africa.” More broadly, Clinton Firth, EY’s MENA cybersecurity chief adds, “The key thing is the strategic location of Oman and its proximity to the GCC, Arab nations and Africa along with the trust enjoyed by the sultanate.”

Oman is currently in the midst of an ambitious international growth program as, like its regional counterparts, it seeks to move beyond a reliance on oil resources by leveraging existing capital. As part of its plans, the capital will shortly welcome a new Muscat Airport with the built-in future capacity to service a projected 48 million passengers per year. Under the guidance of German aviation consulting firm Munich Airport International, the airport has now entered into its final phase of testing.

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Israeli cybersecurity consultancy Sygnia picked up by Temasek

29 October 2018 Consultancy-me.com

Israeli cybersecurity consulting startup Sygnia has been bought by Singaporean stste investment firm Temasek in a deal reportedly worth $250 million.

Describing itself as a provider of ‘military-grade’ cybersecurity, the Tel Aviv-based start-up Sygnia provides organisations worldwide with high-level cross-sector cyber resilience consulting and incident response support services: “We apply technological supremacy, digital combat experience, and a business-driven mindset to cyber security, enabling organizations to excel in the age of cyber.”

Co-founded in 2015 by current CEO Shachar Levy and launched by Team8, an Israeli cybersecurity ‘think-tank’ come incubator set up by former leaders of the Israeli Defense Force’s fabled technology and intelligence division Unit 8200, the cybersecurity start-up will now come under the ownership of Singaporean sovereign investment agency Temasek, which holds upwards of S$308 billion in assets.

While financial details of the deal remain undisclosed, sources reportedly close to the matter have placed the sale at $250 million, with Sygnia apparently not having received any further funding beyond its original $4.3 million seed investment. For Temasek, the deal marks a growing taste for cybersecurity investments, with the fund having led a $60 million Series B funding round closed in June for fellow Team 8 start-up Claroty, a cyberdefence software producer focused on factories and industrial plants.Israeli cybersecurity consultancy Sygnia picked up by TemasekAccording to the announcement from Sygnia, the company will continue to operate as an independent entity while pursuing collaborations with Temasek and its portfolio of companies, with Levy slated to remain at the helm and fellow co-founders Ariel Smoler and Ami Kor staying on in key roles. Team8 co-founder and CEO Nadav Zafrir will also hold on to his role as Sygnia chair, with both outfits to continue their collaboration.

“Sygnia has built a powerful combination of professional proficiency, methodologies, technologies, and a culture of excellence, which is critically needed in confronting the growing complexity of cyber,” Zafrir said. “Team8 will remain committed to Sygnia's success and we will continue to collaborate and work closely together.”

Speaking on Sygnia’s acquisition, Levy said; “Aligning with Temasek will strengthen our capability to provide end to end strategic support to organisations in meeting the specter of cyber threats, and allow us to accelerate building our global reach. I am incredibly proud of our team members - who have made this company into what it is. We will remain committed to the highest standards of professional excellence, client focus, decisiveness and speed.”

The purchase comes at a time when not only are there growing concerns for a shortfall in cyber preparedness around the world, and particularly in Southeast Asia, but also as tensions continue to simmer across the Middle East between long-time rivals – with state-sponsored cyber-attacks on real world infrastructure seen as a genuine threat. Recently, Accenture’s cybersecurity division outlined the rising global threat from agents in Iran, while Saudi Arabia has been busy ramping up its cyber-warfare capabilities. In Israel, the country's start-up sector is increasingly turning its attention to cybersecurity.