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In a recent blog by the Industrial Development Authority, Ireland’s inward investment promotional agency, Cork was identified as a ‘hidden gem for cyber security’.
Citing the established presence of many of the world’s top security companies - Malwarebytes, Trend Micro, AlienVault, Cylance, eSentire, FireEye, McAfee, Sophos, VMWare and Keeper Security - it confirmed the continued importance of this vibrant sector to the city.
Anthony O’Mara, Vice President EMEA at Malwarebytes, who has over 20 years’ experience in the sector, recalls the early days of this cluster: “When I was asked to establish Trend Micro here back in 2003, we were the first of these companies to locate in Cork. At that time, there was little sign that the cluster would go on to become what it has today.”
He remembers their arrival sixteen years ago as kick-starting the vibrant sector it has now become.
“It is remarkable to look back over those years and see how the sector has now evolved into a very tight enterprise security cluster with many of the biggest companies in the world having a base here.
"This concentration continues to attract new companies such as Malwarebytes to the area. In particular, I remember the role IDA played and continue to play in promoting Cork as a world class location.
"I think the development of the region has now reached a stage where any ambitious security company is asking themselves why they shouldn’t establish in Cork.”
There are now up to 60 overseas technology companies in Cork, in manufacturing, software development and global business services.
More than 1,000 people work either with pure-play cybersecurity companies or others with specific security teams. In addition to the longer established security vendors, there has been a wave of ‘next generation’ cyber security companies choosing Cork as a base from which to grow.
Companies such as Cylance, FireEye, eSentire, Alienvault, Sophos, TransUnion, and Keeper Security are part of the next wave of security tech in Cork.
Since 2013, pure-play companies have announced 650 new jobs in Cork.
Adding to the activity are the companies that are growing their security-related teams in the Cork area, including Qualcomm, IBM, Clearstream, Johnson Controls, VMware, UTRC, Dell EMC, , McKesson, Apple, Amazon and Nuix.
When Anthony was approached four years ago by Malwarebytes to head up their European operation, Cork was the obvious choice.
At the opening of its International HQ in April 2016, Marcin Kleczynski, the founder of Malwarebytes, said his company looked at other locations like Dublin, London and cities in Germany before settling on Ireland’s second city.
“There are so many great companies here: Trend Micro, FireEye, McAfee – even VMWare is a security company – but on top of that, there’s Apple and EMC/RSA, so there was a lot of talent to choose from, and the competition for such talent is a little bit less crowded than it was in Dublin.
"Cork is pretty much accessible, so all those factors contributed to our choice and we haven’t really looked back,” he said.
In its position as the international headquarters, Malwarebytes now has its sales, marketing, finance, human resources, pre and post-sales technical support teams in Cork. International expansion hasn’t stopped there, with office locations now in over 10 locations globally.
“Having moved into these state of the art offices at One Albert Quay just under three years ago, we are now at full capacity and are looking to expand,” says Anthony O’Mara.
“We have exceptional staff, who are highly skilled, and are central to the continued growth of the Company globally.
"We are very pleased with the International growth of the Company. We are increasingly relevant to the largest corporations in the world, and we fully expect that to continue.”
Last Year, Malwarebytes was recognized as a “visionary” in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms, selected for its ‘completeness of vision and ability to execute’ – one of only two companies to demonstrate progression in 2018.
In addition, Malwarebytes was ranked 313 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North America.
“Malwarebytes continues to be founder led. Marcin Kleczynski founded the Company whilst still a teenager 11 years ago, and the culture he has fostered in the Company, contributes to making Malwarebytes an employer of choice.” says O’Mara.
“While there is clearly a profit motive and impetus to create value for the company, the core value that drives the company is that everyone is entitled to a malware-free existence.
It is this core value that drives our behaviour in the way we treat our customers, the way we innovate and why people choose to join the company.”
As the economic fortunes of Cork continue to rise - as evidenced by the growing number of cranes on the 2019 skyline - so too does the growth and expansion of the city’s security cluster.
“Cork is a great place for enterprise software companies to locate.
"While it is never easy to find the right people, we have found Cork always able to deliver to our needs.”
While the cluster continues to experience significant growth, O’Mara cautions on the ongoing need for the provision of suitable housing and tax benefits to accommodate the influx:
“In order to continue to attract the necessary talent, most of whom are choosing to locate here from abroad, we need to ensure that they can find suitable homes and a competitive tax regime that acknowledges the best talent is always mobile.”
Malwarebytes employs over 15 different nationalities, with over two-thirds from overseas. Looking to the coming year and beyond, Anthony O‘Mara sees more of the same for Malwarebytes in Cork, as the company’s continued growth drives it forward to greater and more challenging heights:
“We are actively recruiting and are in the process of considering another office move to accommodate our expansion. The future is bright for Malwarebytes.”
Back in 2004, Marcin Kleczynski picked up a nasty malware infection one day while cruising the Internet in search of video games.
This despite having a big-name paid anti-virus in place.
Given that it was the family computer, Marcin was obliged to deal with the virus - no big deal with his work as a computer tech after school in Chicago.
Try three solid days. After three days searching the Internet and consulting with other people on security forums, the future founder of Malwarebytes came to two conclusions: there was a lot of new malware out there; and traditional anti-virus guards simply weren’t up to the task.
So Marcin set out to build a better malware fighter. He taught himself code and eventually engineered a small but highly effective anti-malware tool called Rogue Remover that quickly became popular in the security community.
They battled malicious code, traded malware intel, and helped desperate folks who came to the message boards.
And they were coming up with outside-the-box answers to the new threats that gave traditional antivirus a hard time. On their own dime and their own time.
It was a world where Marcin discovered like-minded security gurus and malware hunters.
Cryptojackers turn your browser into a bitcoin-mining operation while ransomware locks data files, paralyzing businesses and national infrastructure all over the world.
And malicious code is now polymorphic, constantly shape shifting to elude detection by traditional antivirus and their old signature-based technology.
An ethos that ‘it takes a hacker to beat a hacker’ has made Malwarebytes one of the most trusted names in cybersecurity.
Its team of more than 600 malware hunters, software engineers, and security industry veterans has been awarded six patents for innovative technology, and with tech that is validated by the results.
But beyond the tech, the team is united behind one simple belief: “You and everyone have a right to a malware-free existence.”