May 20, 2024
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Acronis excels in thwarting cyber-attacks even before they are launched

With migration to the digital world growing at warp speed globally, among both small and large business entities, as well as individuals, the ever-growing threat of cyber-attacks has never been greater then it is today.

In this scenario, data is everything, and as such, cybercriminals have found that targeting data and digital assets, whether physical, virtual, or cloud-based, can make for easy and rich pickings! In fact, why rob a bank or resort to kidnapping when with a few anonymous keyboard strokes data can be held to ransom?

Common sense dictates that data and data systems can and must be protected from the world’s cybercriminals by deploying world-class cyber protection measures 24×7.

It is here that Acronis steps in. The technology company is a world leader in data protection, cyber security and cyber protection solutions that address safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security (SAPAS) challenges delivered via its AI-based active protection technology, blockchain-based data authentication, and unique hybrid-cloud architecture.

Founded in 2003 and with its corporate headquarters in Schaffhausen, Switzerland and global headquarters in Singapore, Acronis received $250 million funding from CVC Capital Partners VII and other investors in mid-2021, giving the company a $2.5-billion valuation.

Acronis is using this latest financing round to expand its portfolio of natively integrated cyber protection products. A significant portion of the investment also goes to further enhancing the company’s broad partner network – most notably Managed Service Providers (MSPs) – to enable them to better serve the cyber protection needs of their clients.

Protecting 750,000+ businesses globally, in association with 20,000+ service providers in 150+ countries as well as over 5.5 million home users, the company hosts the annual Acronis #CyberFit Summit World Tour – the world’s largest gathering (in-person, hybrid or virtual) of cyber protection and IT channel experts committed to improving the protection of data and critical digital assets and systems, from malware, vulnerabilities, and cyber-attacks.

After being held in Miami, Florida in October, and Schaffhausen, Switzerland in November, the third and final edition of the 2021 Acronis #CyberFit Summit World Tour was held in Dubai, UAE from December 8-9 in a hybrid format for MSPs, resellers, distributors, Hosting Service Providers (HSPs) and other data professionals seeking to make their IT channel business safer, more productive and profitable in 2022.

In addition to several globally renowned keynote speakers, workshops and in-person and virtual networking opportunities for participants the 2021 Acronis #CyberFit Summit Dubai event also featured the launch of the annual Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2022 – an in-depth review of cyber security trends and threats worldwide. The report warns that MSPs are particularly at risk from cybercriminals, and are becoming increasingly vulnerable to supply chain attacks.

Having played leadership roles in bringing innovation and global growth to mega brands and a respected cloud software and hosting industry veteran, Patrick Pulvermueller was appointed CEO of Acronis on July 1, 2021, joining the company from GoDaddy, where he last served as President of Partner Business.

With proven experience in developing successful, cloud-based go-to-market strategies, particularly through service providers, resale channels, and strategic alliances, Pulvermueller delivered the opening keynote address at the 2021 Acronis #CyberFit Summit Dubai event, on the sidelines of which he participated in this exclusive interview with MENews247.

Excerpts from the interview:

Criteria that Acronis relies on to develop its cyber protection solutions:

There are two components. On the one hand, it involves everything we come across, from a research perspective, and which points us in the direction of where the threats are likely to emerge from in the future.

On the other hand, it involves listening very closely to our service providers and partners; in terms of what they need to protect their customers. These are the two key criteria; deep-dive research and listening to our collaborators.

Drawling the line between product development and commercialisation:

We experiment with many, many things in our large R&D centre. For example, topics like IoT and quantum computing. These are some of the areas we are experimenting in right now. As part of the R&D process we build prototypes, and as soon as we see the demand, we immediately move into commercialisation.

Due to our in-house R&D capabilities we can kind of fully predict where the future is headed and where the threats will emerge. Against this background we can prepare for any potential future scenarios.

Pandemic impact on cyber protection and cyber security globally:

Three things have happened with the pandemic. First, everyone who could move into a hybrid work environment did so. Second, people started to use different devices, apart from their own regular devices. And third, all of these devices were spread around the world in an uncontrolled manner. All three of these elements have had a significant negative impact on cyber protection.

From a cyber-threat perspective, during the pandemic period, cyber-attacks increased by more than 300% – which represents an accelerated increase. And, the threats are growing and getting much more sophisticated for one reason – the spread of devices – I just described. This scenario makes things even more complicated and more difficult to address.

With the pandemic, what we encounter is more and more tools, to build your own ransomware easily, like drag-and-drop, click and unleash. So, it has become even easier and cheaper to easily attack poorly protected data assets, and resulting in more attack vectors. All these combined results are contributing to a tremendous growth in cyber-threats and cyber-attacks around the globe.

Major looming cyber-threats in 2022:

Looking at 2022 from a cyber security and data protection perspective, what we anticipate is even more acceleration of cyber-threats. For a time the world believed the pandemic would be over and done away with and that the threats would decrease in intensity and nature, but it’s not.

It’s apparent that the pandemic is here to stay for some time, if not more, which means the hybrid model of working will continue, keeping the door further open to attacks. We have to implement a permanent solution that is going to make a big difference to protecting the hybrid model.

Advice on mitigating cyber-threats to data and digital assets:

I have two pieces of advice. First, make sure there is always a data copy available, which is separate from the main system. We offer the market this with our immutable storage solution and where data can be stored in our cloud separate from the client’s cloud. Why is this important? Because no tool on the planet can protect a data custodian against every potential threat; especially not a threat that comes from within. One cannot stop a disgruntled employee from illicitly changing data or even destroying data. This is my number one advice; always have a copy of the data available and make sure it is stored separate from the main system.

My second advice has to do with training people. I cannot emphasise this aspect enough. Even the best cyber security companies – I exclude us from that – when they receive phishing emails, even their own personnel click on those emails. So, it is essential to continuously train and remind employees about threats from phishing emails, etc. It does not matter if you are in a public, private, or non-profit organisation; help educate everyone.

AI role in cyber protection and cyber security domains:

AI plays a key role on both sides; on the good guys’ side, as well as on the bad guys’ side. Acronis is trying to stay ahead of the curve by deploying AI. We have significant patents and investment in AI and machine-learning, to make sure that we are predicting the real threats and responding accordingly with bespoke cyber protection solutions.

It is unbelievable how good AI has become, without any manual intervention, in impersonating a human, and sending out mass emails to people, which truly look like an email sent on behalf of a CEO or sent on behalf of a CFO. This scenario really puts email security measures to the ultimate test.

Middle East digitalisation perspective:

I think everyone in the world must do more to safeguard their data/digital assets. Because cybercriminals have no international borders. They don’t have to board a plane to conduct an attack, they just have to have wireless internet access and off they go.

What I have seen, especially in the Middle East region, is a significant acceleration in digitalisation everywhere. At the same time, the systems in the region to protect data have been lacking slightly. Last year, 45% of cyber security experts in the region said that they needed to do more to protect their data. Now, it’s 69%. So, it’s a lot more data managers saying ‘we must do more to protect our data’. Overall, looking at the Middle East, digitalisation has accelerated, but data protection has still not kept up pace with the digitalisation rollout.

Powering innovation at Acronis:

Our own people power our innovation. Candid Wüest, our Vice President of Cyber Protection Research is a great example. Wüest leads our accelerated research into the latest trends in the threat landscape and new protection methods designed to continuously enhance the world’s most innovative cyber protection solutions.

Our founder, Serguei Beloussov, who is also our Chief Research Officer, and who directs our technology and research strategy across product areas has a lot of ideas in many directions. That’s how we create innovation. My own role is to pick the three to five ideas out of the 500-odd ones we have, which we can then commercialise, to truly help our service providers.

In sync with the UN’s SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals):

We primarily focus on three of the UN’s 17 SDGs. One goal is equality; gender equality and equality in general. This is something that is very close to my heart. For instance, at our 2021 #CyberFit Summit Dubai event we hosted our women in business and technology initiative to acknowledge and honour the key role women are playing in these twin spheres. We also focus on diversity, from ethnicity, cultural, religious or any other perspective.

The second SDG goal we are passionate about is education, and where we are investing significantly as part of the non-profit Acronis Cyber Foundation schools’ programme and where we partner with non-profit organisations and partners to meet education challenges in underserved communities around the world.

Our latest initiative is to provide 200 girls at the Molo Mhlaba school in Cape Town, South Africa with a better learning environment. We also invest in other education-related projects for migrants in Western Europe and senior people.

Our third SDG goal pertains to carbon neutrality and where we strive to ensure that everything we do does not have a negative impact on the environment.

Last Updated on 5 months by Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, aerospace, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, automotive, and fashion verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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