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Nir Ayalon | CEO | Cydome

Nir Ayalon: Safeguarding SEAS from Cyberthreats

Digitalization’s widespread has disrupted several industries bringing waves of transformative shifts elevating and streamlining the workflow. However, it also comes with several challenges in the forms of cyber-attacks and threats. Since the past two years, cyberthreats have targeted vulnerable targets compromising compliance, data, and privacy concerns. The leaders in the cybersecurity niche are working fingers to the bone to tackle this solution to protect and safeguard businesses worldwide.

In the chaos of cyber threats, Nir Ayalon took it upon himself to protect the maritime industry from cyber-attacks, working with professionals with deep knowledge and experience. Today, Nir leads as CEO and CoFounder of Cydome, an award-winning maritime cybersecurity firm. He also serves as an ISO committee member for Marine & Ship technology and Cybersecurity.

The Rise

Nir’s professional life began developing and researching data protection and disaster recovery solutions for enterprises, developing into several technical and commercial roles at IBM. He has been involved with several successful start-ups developing technology for the business sector. While developing advanced R&D initiatives focused on cyber defense and protection, he saw the value and opportunity to create a highly specialized business in the maritime industry. Thus, Nir Co-founded Cydome, a maritime cybersecurity company with an excellent team having extensive experience in maritime ecosystem and Cybersecurity.

Nir states that he faced unique challenges that had a huge impact. The global shipping industry is the backbone or foundation layer of the world’s supply chain and historically has several security weaknesses. He understands that the cybersecurity threat in the maritime sector is relatively new – and it is the result of increasing digitalization and an improvement of satellite communication technology.

The Secure Approach

Since Cydome’s initiation, Nir knew he had to develop a different approach to Cybersecurity. He expresses that the maritime cybersecurity sector suffers from the major legacy providers putting a “maritime” label on their product and thinking their product development job is done. The reality is that the IT and OT infrastructures within a ship present a significantly more complex set of vulnerabilities both to and from the ship. Cydome started with a clean design sheet.

Cydome’s mission is to protect the entire supply chain by protecting the maritime industry. This industry is the backbone of the world’s supply chain and economy; therefore, cyber leaders need to act as a global protector for shipping.

Nir states that cyber defense must always be on and defending, and it must protect all points of accessing all of the time. Cydome has approached the problems with innovative solutions and then constantly reviewed, evaluated, and improved. It committed a significant percentage of its income back into its R&D development, resulting in award-winning solutions.

Cydome envisions innovating and being a step ahead of the industry’s problems to help the entire supply chain. It has already implemented steps by partnering with one of the leading maritime universities to create a central database for cyber-attacks, with the vision of leading transparency and innovation in the sector.

Cydome has made a dent in the universe with its solutions. Nir says, “Where there is an industry with big problems, there is an opportunity to build a big business providing the solutions.” The global shipping industry is massive and at-risk; figures for 2019 show that 11 billion tons of cargo worth $11 trillion were moved by 98,000 ships. Such big numbers attract unwanted attention, and Cydome detects and prevents thousands of attacks each day on clients’ vessels.

Unique Approach

Cydome’s strategy has always been to invest in research and development to create original, innovative, and proactive solutions. Nir mentions that the early days of cyber defense were limited to detection and reporting; proactive defense and protection, combined with an always-on approach to monitoring, is the way forward.

Cydome is developing and implementing several methods to support the challenges of the maritime industry, such as Machine Learning (ML), which uses Big Data to provide effective detection and defense against attacks. It focuses on developing automated tools to bring a new level of ease-of-use in the event of cyber incidents that happen in real-time. Nir asserts, “As automation is the future, we have also brought it into our compliance tool, which is specifically aimed at regulations for maritime cybersecurity, including IMO 2021.”

Prepared Mindset

The cybersecurity world is dynamic and changes constantly. Attackers exploit vulnerabilities, and defenders detect and protect the protected assets. Technology, in general, is also advancing very rapidly – creating opportunities for more zero-day exploits.

Machine learning is a powerful tool that will take this cat-mouse scenario to an entirely new level when attackers use ML to launch new complex, difficult-to-detect types of attacks.

Cydome is already developing and using AI to monitor and search for signs of anomalies that suggest a complex attack.

What Comes Next?

Currently, Nir is focused on building Cydome into the leading cybersecurity provider in the maritime sector. To do so, the approach of the company will continue to focus on the security of the entire supply chain, which involves protecting fleets, ports and offshore facilities. Without these parts having proper, ongoing defence against cybercriminals the entire maritime ecosystem is at risk. Cydome will continue championing this integral proposition for the benefit of the entire supply chain and economy.

Words of Experience

Nir advises budding entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the cybersecurity niche to research extensively. He says, “Understand and validate the problem and know your users. And the most important thing – build a diverse and creative team that will complete each other. Plan to build a solution to a real and significant problem and develop a strategy to be the best provider of that service.”