Talking Heads Q&A: Oz Alashe, founder, CybSafe

Oz Alashe, the founder of cyber security startup CybSafe, chats to FStech about his career and views on the industry.

How did you get into the sector?
After retiring from the British Army and UK Special Forces, I joined Torchlight Group, where I helped global organisations mitigate cyber security threats. For nearly 20 years, I have been part of and led teams that have used specialist technology to counter complex global threats. My experience at Torchlight Group highlighted the issue businesses have of ensuring their people and suppliers are aware of cyber risks and behave safely online. My passion for technology, and belief in the positive impact that behavioural science principles combined with advanced technology could have on cyber security, led me to founding CybSafe.

How long have you been in your current role and what have been the highlights so far?
The idea for CybSafe was formulated in 2015. We then spent the first 12-18 months homing in on the issue of addressing the human behaviour aspect of cyber security, turning tick-box training on its head and achieving our accreditations. We launched officially in May this year, at which point I became the CEO of CybSafe. Highlights include securing our first major High Street bank as a customer and growing our client portfolio across the financial services industry. We also secured funding from Regulatory Financial Solutions and moved to Level39 in Canary Wharf.

In terms of technology developments, what has your company got planned for the next 12 months?
Our intelligent platform will develop as cyber attacks become more complex, ensuring businesses remain up-to-date on the cyber threat landscape and their people are adequately prepared. There are several technical developments and enhancements in the pipeline – some are aimed at the interactive nature of the platform, others focus on the way our data is analysed and vulnerabilities are presented. We are really excited about cool features such as our insight sharing aspects. However, for us, features are simply the mechanism for doing what we exist to do – positively change cyber behaviour.

And in terms of the industry as a whole, what trends do you see emerging over the coming year?
Cyber attacks will continue to be part of the news agenda, affecting businesses across all sectors. The recent WannaCry attack has catapulted cyber security into the limelight and I see no reason why this attention will wane. With the increase in IT security awareness cyber criminals will look for alternative routes into institutions, and the supply chain is one such route. Therefore, securing the supply chain will become increasingly vital and institutions will begin to ask difficult questions of their supply chain to ensure compliance.

What has impressed you about one of your recent online or High Street banking/financial services experiences?
I am really impressed with how hard online banking service providers are working to ensure almost effortless access, within the security constraints they face. I like the fact that I can easily conduct all my banking online, on mobile devices, and I can therefore also keep abreast of transactions to ensure they are indeed genuine.

Is there anything that you dislike or that frustrates you about the sector?
It’s not an acute dislike or frustration but I do think that the sector has a responsibility to do more to help people understand how to be more secure online. Banks should be (indeed they have a vested interest in) leading the way. This benefits everyone: the customers, as they can have greater control over their finances and are less likely to fall victim to cyber crime; the banks, because they have fewer online fraud claims to deal with; and society, because we have more resilient cyber practices and lose less money to financial crime.

Who in the industry inspires you and why?
I am generally inspired by anyone that I think is going the extra mile to make the world a better place. I think there are lots of people doing this in the FS sector and despite FS receiving some bad press over the past few years, the fact remains that most of our societies benefit hugely from the output of the sector. There are people who are ethical, unfettered by the pressure of conformity, keen to contribute more than they consume, and passionate about making the world a better place – these people are inspirational.

What technology can’t you live without?
My smartphone. I am (rather embarrassingly) wholly reliant on the connectivity it affords me. I use it to speak, email, read, find my way about, stay abreast of news… everything!

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