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Gloucestershire Business News

Stepping up the fight against cyber criminals

A cyber company which started in humble beginnings in rural Gloucestershire outlined how it has gone from working in a shed to tackling security issues around the globe at a virtual event.

Jeremy Annis, chief executive of Cheltenham software company Ripjar, described how cyber threat intelligence has been transformed during the latest online event organised by Cynam.

The not-for-profit Cyber Cheltenham organisation brought together experts to discuss security and other issues facing the growing cyber community in Gloucestershire.

Mr Annis, one of the founders of Ripjar seven years ago, said: "Cynam has been great for the local community in Cheltenham and the wider cyber community in the UK.

"If we put crime and internet together, we get cyber crime. Covid is accelerating the digital transformation of the economy and my hunch is forcing a step change in criminality.

"It is so easy for criminals to hide their tracks."

Founded by five former GCHQ engineers, Ripjar employs more than 70 people in three UK offices with its Labyrinth technology used across the world and tackling major issues such as Islamic State propaganda and bots influencing elections and information around the world.

"We've gone from a small shed surrounded by sheep to a thriving business with customers all over the world," he said.

"Knowledge is power. It is what helps us make decisions. We try to make decisions makers more effective."

The extent of the fight against cyber crime was demonstrated by Microsoft chief security officer Sarah Armstrong Smith, who said the company analysed eight trillion telemetry signals daily with 13 billion malicious emails blocked in the last year.

She said: "People are looking for the crown jewels. They need control of your network, they need control of your domains.

"We see them lurking, doing reconnaissance to enable them to get access as quickly as possible.

"It is critical to have the tools and technology to not only detect if people have been able to breach your network, but stop them spreading across your network."

She continued: "Cyber criminals continue change tactics. What we talk about is the principle of zero trust. Always question credentials.

"We have to disrupt that return on investment by making it as hard as possible for them to get access to your network and across your network."

There was also advice for the next generation tackling cyber crime from Julie Tegg, director of apprenticeships and employer training at Gloucestershire College.

She said: "We call 2020 the year of moving online. We all had to adjust to new ways of working.

"That provides more opportunities for cyber crime so it has never been more important to strengthen your security infrastructure."

The college is part of the West of England Institute of Technology with £3million investment in facilities which are due to open at its campus near to the proposed cyber park in Cheltenham in March.

It has also received £1million in funding from GFirst LEP to enable businesses to work out of its campus.

"Those relationships in businesses are really important to us," she said. "We are very good at what we do because we work with really good employers and we are passionate about developing skills."

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