Singapore-based Group-IB aims to produce in-house cyber security solutions from its Dubai research centre by 2023 with the help of local talent, according to the company's founder.
The facility, known as Threat Intelligence and Research Centre, will help the cyber security company counter local threats effectively and export the technologies developed in the UAE to the other parts of the world, Dmitry Volkov, chief technology officer and co-founder of Group-IB, said.
It was inaugurated on Sunday, a day before the start of the three-day Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference, and is based in Dubai Internet City.
"The Middle East, especially the UAE, is one of the hot markets and bad actors are always trying to breach into its secure networks. The presence of big corporates and wealthy economies makes this region an attractive target," Mr Volkov told The National.
“We chose Dubai to stay closer to this region … to work from ground zero in association with local talent, partners and law enforcement agencies. The centre will produce technologies and solutions specific [to] regional problems,” he said.
Group-IB did not disclose the amount it invested in setting up the centre.
Rapid digitalisation and the growing number of connected devices have increased the risk of cyber threats to companies and individuals, particularly in the Middle East.
The cost of a data breach in the UAE and Saudi Arabia – the Arab world’s two largest economies – increased 9.4 per cent last year, costing companies $6.53 million per breach on average, according to a report from IBM Security.
The figure is higher than the global average of $3.86m per breach and is the second-highest average among the 17 regions surveyed.
The shift to remote working or a hybrid work model has also increased cyber security risks, according to Mr Volkov.
“Employees are working from homes, using unprotected devices and internet connections as compared with a corporate set-up. So now, [a] network is quite fallible with less controls but offering the same kind of accessibility to bad actors.”
Group-IB, which currently caters to more than 30 clients in the Middle East and Africa region within the banking, government, insurance and energy sectors, aims to treble its regional business with the opening of the centre that will also serve as its regional headquarters.
The centre has 18 employees from key Group-IB units, including threat intelligence, security assessment, fraud hunting and digital risk protection. It intends to increase its workforce in the country to 50 by next year.
The company will initially be hiring digital forensics experts, investigators and cyber threat intelligence and attribution specialists.
“We will spend 2021 and early next year in hiring and training local talent. We will offer them cutting-edge infrastructure, tools and mentorship to develop solutions that can be used across the Mena region,” Mr Volkov said.
“Best prototypes will be exported to other countries and marketed as ‘made in Dubai’ solutions.”
Founded in 2003, Group-IB has conducted more than 1,200 successful investigations globally. It works with global law enforcement agencies such as Interpol and Europol to contain cyber threats and it intends to adopt the same strategy in the Middle East.
“We have seen that local authorities are very supportive in such type of initiatives. It will take some time to demonstrate how we can help them and eventually how they can help businesses through our support but I am sure we will be successful soon,” Mr Volkov said.
Group-IB, which will open its second regional office in Saudi Arabia this year, plans a gradual expansion across the region.
“We will open an office in Saudi and then we will see how our business will evolve further. Accordingly, we will decide about increasing our physical presence,” Mr Volkov said, without disclosing the timeline.