BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence beefs up Asian operations
By Benjamin Cher September 9, 2015
- Trebles headcount in Singapore, building local teams
- Geared to tackle targeted attacks, cloud and email threats
AS cyberthreats become more ‘real’ to organisations in the region, UK-based international defence, aerospace and security company BAE Systems is beefing up cybersecurity offerings from its Applied Intelligence division for Asia.
The Applied Intelligence division has 15 offices in 10 countries across Asia, employing about 500 people – or about 12.5% of the division’s 4,000 total employees globally.
“We have tripled our headcount here in Singapore in our core business functions,” said Nick Turnbull (pic above), BAE Systems Applied Intelligence cybersecurity sales director for Asia.
“Singapore has been a fast growing market for us,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA).
Following its acquisition of SilverSky last October, BAE Systems has repackaged its security offerings for the cloud. It also recently launched its cloud-based cybersecurity solutions in Asia Pacific, bringing zero-day attack protection into the mix.
Zero-day refers to undisclosed or uncorrected vulnerabilities that the developer is unaware of.
“We are building a sales and technical team to drive that business,” Turnbull said.
“We will be recruiting a team in the Asia Pacific region, as well as a team in Singapore that will be a mixture of sales and technical resources,” he said, without disclosing numbers.
BAE Systems is also gathering a team of cloud security experts to build a best-in-class resource in the region.
Evolving threats fuelling expansion
BAE Systems is making these commitments because of the evolving needs of its customers in the region, according to Turnbull.
“Threats are evolving, threat actors are evolving, and new threat actors come on the scene every day – malware is available for anyone who wants to use it,” he said.
This in turn is pushing conversations up from the IT department to higher levels within the organisation, according to Richard Dobrow, director of cybersecurity products at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence.
“What we’re seeing is that the damage from cyber-attacks is becoming more real for companies, and the losses are getting more substantial,” he said.
Thus, cybersecurity “has evolved from an IT problem to a CIO/ CISO (chief information officer/ chief information security officer) problem to a boardroom problem,” Turnbull said.
The company is also seeing more targeted threats against specific companies, Dobrow said, pointing to a statistic that 70-90% of malware is being directed at specific organisations – that figure comes from a data breach investigation report by US-based telco giant Verizon.
The No 1 threat vector remains email, however. According to the Verizon report above, 50% of employees click on phishing links within the first hour of a phishing attack.
Dobrow said BAE Systems’ solutions cover email as well. “We are meeting the changing environment and addressing the threats that are coming from that new path,” he added.
BAE Systems traditionally has had a strong presence within the financial services industry (FSI) in Asia. It is, in fact, its No 1 vertical in the region, according to Dobrow (pic above).
Other key verticals are industrial companies, retail and healthcare.
One development BAE Systems aims to ride on is Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, the government programme that aims to enable people through technology.
In this, the company was heartened by Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon’s speech at the Global Technology Law Conference on June 29, where he said a Smart Nation needs a smart financial centre.
“The financial industry takes cybersecurity seriously, and the first priority on our journey to a smart financial centre is therefore to continually strengthen cybersecurity within the financial industry,” said Turnbull.
Another key area is the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.
“If you look at the current user base we have today, 50-60% are SMEs – this is where our strength is; we can support an SME all the way to a large enterprise,” Turnbull said.
He said BAE Systems is investing in local teams to address the SME market more fully.
“We are building a dedicated team of local people who know the market, know the customers, know the regulatory requirements, and the local pain points,” he added.
BAE Systems’ ability to scale solutions for SMEs to large enterprises also gives it an edge with SMEs which are looking to expand regionally and even globally, according to Dobrow.
“We seeing the broad conversations of companies now evolving into global brands,” he said.
“This is forcing them to look at how they apply security and compliance capabilities to address all the markets they are entering,” he added.
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