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Israeli Cybersecurity Firms Are Breaking Into The Philippines

March 23, 2018

The year is shaping up to be a watershed moment for Filipino cyberspace. One of the latest trends in the often dull information/communication sector are new products to thwart cyber attacks or, at the very least, sudden data losses. During the past week alone a few interesting companies rolled out “platforms” to address the shocking gap in local enterprise security.

The current rush contrasts the optimism from the beginning of this decade when very big names in tech were falling on each other trying to sell cloud storage. These overeager players often paid lip service to data protection and bitter experience proved how foolish this was–the Philippines is far from cyber secure and the country is a hotbed of cybercrime.

This week a local distributor of technology products, Computrade, held a launch for its new partners to mark the beginning of its annual conference for ICT vendors, the IT Infrastructure Summit 2018. Among them was Varonis, a New York-based company founded by two Israeli engineers. Varonis specializes in “data governance” analytics and detection software and has offices in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Varonis’ regional head didn’t promote any specific product but used the occasion to explain the finer points of protecting sensitive company information.

Two other firms were introduced in the same event, these were Flowmon and SAS. Another partner affiliated with Computrade, the AI-driven security startup DarkTrace, is reportedly expanding its business to the Philippines as well.

A less conspicuous arrival was preferred by Siemplify, a startup that only launched in 2015. Also based in New York but with Israeli founders, Siemplify offers its prospects a “security orchestration platform” for harnessing vast amounts of real-time data on genuine and potential attacks. What this means is the teams who run security operations centers (SOCs) have a convenient tool for mapping current threats, which allows them to conduct forensic investigations much faster. Siemplify’s relative youth is one of its draws. Total headcount is no more than 50 employees and it still hasn’t gone beyond a $10 million Series A funding round in 2016.

Another arrival this month is Cybonet. The company with beachfront headquarters in Haifa, Israel, is now trying to enter the Philippines in earnest as part of its “Far East” expansion. Having rebranded after calling itself PineApp for more than a decade, no less than than CEO David Feldman showed up in a Makati hotel to explain their latest product, the malware tracking tool Cybowall, in a room packed with enterprise security workers.

What makes Cybowall different is being tailor made for small and medium-sized companies. It’s promoted as a “solution” for continuous monitoring of all protocols and endpoints with real time detection for an “ever changing threat landscape.”

The sudden presence of these Israeli companies shouldn’t be seen as a concerted effort. It’s just the latest wave to shape the ICT profession in the Philippines, whose rising economic profile (ranks 30th in GDP/PPP) is tarnished by a government with a near total inability to deter cybercrime. This shortcoming is ever more urgent at a time when e-commerce and fintech are becoming commonplace in the lives of Filipinos.

It’s certain these companies will run local sales either from regional offices or distributors rather than open shop in Greater Manila. The adoption of their tools, or similar ones, by the ICT industry could lead to new professional standards. Intense competition may ensue for the rest of the year as contenders large and small dive in to carve up their slice of the Philippine cybersecurity market.

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