MWR InfoSecurity acquisition to bolster F-Secure's growth plans


Global cyber security company F-Secure, based in Helsinki, Finland, believes there is a growing demand for managed threat detection and response solutions to better protect businesses in Africa, amid an evolving threat landscape, exacerbated by a shortage of IT security skills.

In addition to attracting and retaining top talent across Africa and enriching this pool via its graduate internship programme, F-Secure plans to leverage its June 2018 acquisition of MWR InfoSecurity, a privately held cyber security company operating globally from its main offices in the UK, the US, South Africa and Singapore.

On 18 June 2018 F-Secure signed an agreement to acquire all the outstanding shares of MWR InfoSecurity in a £80-million. According to information supplied, "an earn-out of a maximum of GBP 25 million (EUR 28,6 million) in cash will be paid after 18 months of the completion subject to the achievement of agreed business targets for the period from 1 July 2018, until 31 December, 2019."

"The acquisition brings MWR InfoSecurity's industry-renowned technologies to F-Secure making our detection and response offering unrivalled. Their threat hunting platform (Countercept) is one of the most advanced in the market and is an excellent complement to our existing technologies," said F-Secure chief executive officer Samu Konttinen.

Speaking from the F-Secure Johannesburg office this week, Harry Grobbelaar, vice president: commercial for F-Secure's cyber security unit, underlined the value of the company's managed incident response (IR) security services practice to emerging markets and the reach of its local office in helping the market better understand the cyber security posture of their networks.

Following the acquisition, the companies have undertaken a significant amount of collaborative work around IR to support clients in Europe and US in terms of large-scale global IR investigation following breaches.

"There is a two-fold benefit there. One, we are able to attract better talent locally in the market because they get exposed to international events and really front-of-the-curve attacks, and at the same time they bring back the knowledge and experience to support local clients."

From its South African office, F-Secure supports 18 African countries and this is driven predominantly through local clients that have exposure and presence across the continent.

Grobbelaar says over the past two years, there has been an increase in activity in Eastern Africa and the company has secured managed detection and response (MDR) clients in Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.

"... and a lot more incident response where we've had guys from other offices join us to go and support African clients, because we've started to see an uptick in the types of threat actors and even local threat actors in the African market," he adds.

F-Secure believes as key sectors (such as finance, telecommunications and mining) across Africa continue to digitise assets, markets represent key targets for cybercriminals.

Those migrating systems online remain concerned that if the availability of these systems are affected, there could be millions at stake (for the company concerned).

Technology is one aspect, the relevant skill sets required to operate this technology is another.

Skills dilemma

Africa does not have the benefit of access to substantial skills pools, as is the case in Europe (where consultants are sourced from various regions).

Grobbelaar says sectors within the South African market require candidates with experience and not enough companies are adding skills to the local skills pool.

F-Secure believes its graduation programme is working well and virtually all its consultants have been sourced through the programme. These sought-after skills are not only attracted, but retained with the offer of international job prospects in offices abroad.

"Globally there is a skills gap, but in Africa in particular I would say there is certainly a challenge to ensure that we have the right skills on board to be able to detect and respond... so that really opens up the opportunity to have a managed service where you can augment a client's abilty, whilst during the time they are up their own skiolls internally, to assist these clients, with the technology to offer remote support."