Saving mobile from cyber attack

Colm Healy’s Corrata mobile start-up aims to secure part of a massive malware global market, writes Trish Dromey

Aiming to become a leader in the global war against cybercrime on mobile phones, Dublin start-up Corrata has gone to market with an innovative mobile security solution for enterprise.

Designed to allow businesses protect their employees’ mobile phones from cyber attack, the patent-pending technology is, according to company CEO and co-founder Colm Healy, one of the first cybersecurity products which has been specifically designed to block malicious content on smartphones.

“The traditional approach to mobile security was to use technology designed for PCs but adapted for mobile although the threat to mobiles is totally different. Ours is the only solution on the market which monitors activity in order to find out what apps are actually doing.”

The business world is only now waking up to the high level of risk companies are being exposed to by cybercriminals who use malware to go after company data on employee phones.

With the Corrata Mobile Defense Threat Solution, Mr Healy says Corrata plans to target security sensitive organisations such as banks, utilities and healthcare providers.

Noting the cyber threat to mobiles is increasingly been recognised by international IT analysts such as Gartner and IDC, he said the global market for technology to combat it which Corrata is targeting is expected to be grow from €100m to €2bn over the next 10 years.

Mobile threats to businesses, which the company software is designed to combat, include phishing as well as the infection of devices by malicious code contained in message apps and social media apps.

“The kinds of attacks that are happening include spear phishing — the sending of targeted text messages to senior executives to trick them into transferring fund or revealing usernames and passwords.”

Employee behaviour is another risk to company security which is being addressed by Corrata.

“Employees who download illegal streaming apps open the devices up to malware and spyware which can be used to provide the cybercriminals with details of business communications.”

To an extensive list of threats being dealt with by the software, he added public wi-fi which he said allows communications to be easily intercepted.

Identified by Bank of Ireland as a technology company of the year, Corrata has recently been shortlisted for the Startup Europe Awards in the cybersecurity category and for the Technology Ireland Awards in the emerging company category.

In setting up the venture in early 2016, Mr Healy, who previously founded Xiam Technologies, was joined by Brendan McDonagh, who had previously founded Arantech.

Given their previous track record in software development, they had little difficulty raising the €600,000 they needed for their new cybersecurity venture.

“We used our own funding, got angel investment, and also secured funding from venture capital company Delta Partners,” he said.

Starting with a staff of four, they began work on the software and by September had released a very early version. In October, Ulster Bank became one of Corrata’s first customers and has since been joined by others, which include Bank of Ireland, the ESB and the Sanne Group in the UK.

Securing Google approval in February, the company has worked on expanding its features, releasing a fuller version last month.

“In October, we got approval from Apple which is hugely significant because we now have full coverage on all mobile phones.”

Corrata now plans to build up sales in both Ireland and the UK with mobile security products which can be used by businesses to defend against cyber attacks as well as controlling the mobile data usage of employees.

The company plans to grow its staff from 10 to 16 or 20 people by the end of next year.

“At that stage, we plan to raise between €3m and €5m and move into the US market.”

The long-term goal is to develop Corrata into a global security business.

“We are targeting a massive market — in this space there will be a small number of winners and we feel we are well positioned to be one of the winners,” Mr Healy said.



Lifestyle

Unmasking Limerick's newest masked rapper

How to stop tensions boiling over this festive season

Decorating your house for Christmas? Here's some advice from three Irish interior designers

A look back at the 10 big stories form the year in music

More From The Irish Examiner