Friday 21 October 2016 8:38 am

Cyber security innovators are taking on the criminals on their own turf

In an increasingly digital world where we entrust our most valuable data to the information superhighway, it was almost inevitable that criminals and other bad actors would eventually catch up and move their business online too.

Their methods are becoming ever more sophisticated as they take advantage of the labyrinth that is the "dark web", which enables them to operate in a manner which subverts both geographical borders and moral boundaries.

Non-malicious threats to the information we store electronically also exist in the form of employee negligence and lack of prudent information storage/transfer by data owners. Taken collectively it is easy to believe the result of a report issued this week by Get Safe Online, which concluded that cybercrime in the UK costs £10.9bn annually.

Despite this, while cybersecurity is at least these days on the radar of most commercial organisations, it remains an agenda item which the company's IT and legal experts sometimes struggle to persuade the board to address with the level of attention it truly merits. Although this is partially down to the difficulty of convincing them that, when it comes to cyber threats, it's a case of "when, not if", historically this has also been an area in which innovation has been slow to arrive.

However, as security breaches continue to regularly grab the headlines around the globe, and tech entrepreneurs with experience working in particular industries start to identify business-specific risks, new companies offering focused solutions to cyber-threats and problems are beginning to emerge.

This is the case for ComplyAdvantage, a Notting Hill-based startup on our Digital Innovators list which provides a global database on AML risk exposures and transaction monitoring covering sanctions, watchlists, Political Exposed Persons and adverse media, which relies upon big data analytics to take risk monitoring to a whole new level. The company's founder spent a number of years working in the finance sector in the City and in 2014 decided to revolutionise compliance technology after becoming frustrated with products on offer at the time.

Another company taking advantage of new machine learning techniques is Darktrace, which uses technology based on the biological principles of the human immune system to identify new threats in computer networks in real time. Its software brings users a one-stop-solution to live threat detection where previously a number of separate tools were required. In the three years since it was founded, the company has grown rapidly to become one of the UK's most talked-about cyber defence companies.

The need for companies to adopt a more intelligent approach to threat assessment is also what drove Digital Shadows, a Canary Wharf-based company, to develop Searchlight, its scalable data analysis platform, to offer clients greater "cyber situational awareness" by analysing the organisation through an attacker's eye view and providing tailored threat intelligence that alerts organisations to potential threats, instances of sensitive data loss or compromised brand integrity.

Not all innovation in the cybersecurity field is concerned with defending businesses. A company focusing on giving individuals greater security and therefore greater freedom to explore the digital world (in addition to facilitating better and faster identity checks to be conducted by businesses) is London-based Yoti, the world's first cross-sector, mobile-friendly identity system offering "a modern approach to ID verification". Using NIST-approved facial recognition technology, government issued photo ID and, where possible, biometric passport chips, the firm's goal is to improve the way in which people share their personal information, in person and online.

Our Power List companies are taking on the world's most sophisticated cyber criminals on their own turf; businesses would be well-advised to heed their war cry and use the innovative technology on offer to join the fight.

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