The cofounder of Europe’s only cyber security startup accelerator says big companies are waging “asymmetric warfare” against nimble-footed hackers who are increasingly looking to claim corporate scalps.
Grace Cassy, cofounder of CyLon, told Business Insider UK: “There are increasing numbers of quite sophisticated hacking groups and individuals who realise they have can have a disproportionate impact.
“It’s a classic asymmetric warfare — you’ve got a large body that’s got to somehow got to protect its information from small, easily manoeuvrable forces who can come in at any angle. It’s a difficult challenge for any organisation. There’s more appetite out there to have a crack at company’s data.”
Cassy says: “High-profile hacks, whether it’s Sony or TalkTalk or Target — you can’t now pretend as a board member you didn’t think cyber security was a significant issue.”
One silver lining is that Cassy says in many cases data breaches simply damage a company’s reputation. Often in high-profile cases hackers will breach company security simply to prove they can and impress other hackers, rather than use what’s stolen for financial gain.
CyLon, set up at the start of the year in West London, offers a 3-month programme to cyber security startups to help get them off the ground. Companies receive free office space, mentoring, and £15,000 of investment. The accelerator is backed by £30 billion hedge fund Winton and defence giant BAE Systems.
The accelerator on Friday announced its second cohort of companies, with eight businesses joining. They range from a Hungarian machine learning startup BitNinja to Verity, a South African anti-forgery company.
Cassy, who worked in Tony Blair’s Foreign Office, says big companies are increasingly receptive to working with small startups on cyber security.
She says: “The banks are some of the most innovative and open to trailing new solutions, partly because they have to be at the cutting edge.
“Some of our first cohort are already in trials and concepts with some of the biggest tier 1 banks. The banks are in many way flag carriers for trialling new solutions.”
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