Irish firm hacks the hackers

Trish Dromey talks to an Irish cybersecurity company looking to play hackers at their own game.

Dublin startup 4Securitas has entered the cyber security space with an innovative solution which has been designed to alert its customers to the presence of hackers even before they have had a chance to launch an attack.

“Our system ACSIA (Automated Cybersecurity Interactive Application) can pick up traces of surveillance and cyber activity and trigger an alert in real-time, which prompts a security team to stop the hackers with a single click,” said company co-founder and chief operating officer Donal Kerr.

Launched in March this year, the software uses artificial intelligence and machine learning and according to Mr Kerr “is built around the mind of a hacker which is what greatly differentiates it from many competing systems.”

Listing the selling points, he said ACSIA is simpler and easier to use than many other systems on the market, as well as being an advance on systems which only alert companies to the presence of malicious entities after an attack has been launched.

“Our system can also solve the problem of false positives or false alarms generated by current security software,” he said, adding that 90% of alerts generated are false alerts which cost organisations both time and money.

Marketing ACSIA as a product which can “help customers respond to cyber threats faster and manage risk more efficiently,” 4Securitas plans to target companies in the FinTech, utility and energy sectors as well as government bodies. “We see scope to sell regulated companies with data and dollar to protect,” said Mr Kerr.

The company was set up in March by Mr Kerr, who has a business and financial services background along with with IT and security specialist Stefan Uygur. Meeting at a ‘Hackers and Founders’ group event in Dublin they decided that there was opportunity to create a simple product for the cybersecurity market with more automation “that would use technology to replace human decision making.”

During 2016 they worked on the project in their spare time and in early 2017, Mr Kerr quit a job with Twitter to work full time on the project and enrolled in Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Programme at the Synergy Innovation Centre at Tallaght IT.

“In November we secured €50,000 in Competitive Start funding and got space at Bank of Ireland Start Lab. The funding allowed us carry out trials and also to take on four employees increasing the staff size to size six,” said Mr Kerr.

The company then signed up Boards.ie, one of Ireland’s largest Internet forums, as its first paying customer in May. In June the company used an Enterprise Ireland innovation voucher to have its product validated IC4 Institute of Cloud computing at DCU.

“As a result our software is now being piloted by several large enterprises in the cloud computing space including data centres,” said Mr Kerr.

This summer 4Securitas was one of three companies in Europe chosen to participate in the accelerator programme run by Iberian power company EDP which is now piloting its software. Mr Kerr said that was a major boost

for the company which is currently engaged in raising funding to develop global sales.

This month our product will be listed on the Amazon web services marketplace — this is another significant step for us and will allow customers anywhere in the world to trial our product

Customers are offered the software on a monthly subscriptions basis —ACSIA Lite, designed for small organisations; and ACSIA Enterprise for large companies — which Mr Kerr said are much more affordable options than standard systems. The company raised €80,000 earlier this year via Angel investment and is now planning to raise €800,000 in venture capital funding. Mr Kerr said because of the difficult funding climate in Ireland he expects to raise this overseas. The funding is required to continue R&D, rent office space and build the company.

“Our aim is to enter the market in both the EU and the US and to have five large clients by the end of this year,” said Mr Kerr.


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