Jan Wendenburg, CEO of Certgate explains why smart isn’t the same as AI and consumer device security is no match for professional protection.
What made you leap into the mobile security industry? Tell us more about your background.
After various sales and marketing management positions at IBM, I co-founded a Venture Capital company specialising in IT startups with offices in Berlin, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong. Then, I founded a German IT security provider, which I later sold to a larger, Swiss cooperation. Thereafter, I helped some fintech startups and returned to my “IT security” roots when joining Certgate.
The area of IT security always fascinated me most. Security is the fundament of everything. Without security, there will be no trust, no digitisation of “analogue” business and no innovation. Without security, organisations will not be able to transform their crucial business processes to digital, automated workflows.
One of the biggest and most widely recognised global megatrends in business is “Going Mobile”. While organisations are going mobile faster and faster, flexible, mobile workplaces will not sustain without effective access control, data integrity and privacy protection. Mobile workplaces are one of the fastest changing areas of IT. Ultra-short consumer product lifecycles of smartphones and tablets meeting corporate long-term security requirements. This is one of the most interesting and challenging spaces in IT security. I am very proud to have the opportunity to provide great ideas, concepts, and solutions with my team, to our clients and this industry.
What was your business’ original mission? How has that mission evolved over time?
When I joined Certgate two years ago, the company had been a one trick pony – great technology and team but needed a wake-up call. I pushed the reset-button and sent Certgate back to startup mode. Today, after taking over another company, developing new products and services and extending the team, Certgate provides a unique mobile security portfolio for secure mobile two-factor authentication and secure mobile communication. Certgate’s brand and products are now protected by a solid international patent portfolio to ensure its operations and future return on shareholders investments.
After numerous leaks and hacks, corporations are getting conscious of the importance of securing data. How can you help medium-large sized companies?
We help companies to secure their mobile data and communication. Data leakage and privacy data violations mostly occur due to missing effective user authentication and non-reliable data encryption. Social hacking, phishing or just weak passwords allowing unauthorised people and hackers leaking confidential data also occur. Any mobile telephone call or short message may be wiretapped remotely from any point on earth.
Certgate protects the mobile user’s data and communication. Certgate’s wireless, mobile two-factor authentication smartcard reader simplifies authentication on the go. Just effective 2FA and encryption – independent from mobile devices. Other vendors store passwords, encryption key, and user credentials into smartphones. This does not help. Smartphones are consumer products, not safe and not designed for enterprise or governmental use. We are different, we secure our clients’ data and communication using globally certified security chips. We do not rely on smartphone vendor’s security.
What do you plan to achieve in the Middle Eastern market?
One of the most prominent governmental law enforcement organisations within the MENA region has benefitted from Certgate’s mobile, secure, encrypted phone and chat communication products for years. We have served this client remotely from Germany and presented our products at local exhibitions. Now, we want to serve better by opening a local office in Dubai and working closely with local partners to improve access and service quality throughout the MENA region. Our goal is to provide full Middle East coverage for major countries and clients.
In a survey, 58 % of GCC respondents said they were cautious about AI because of the potential implications on data privacy. What are your thoughts?
Artificial Intelligence is one of the hottest technologies these days and many, many specialists are working to launch the first AI-enabled services and products. Most people around the world regard things such as digital assistants – think Alexa, Google or Cortana – as AI, but they are not. In fact, most services claiming to be AI-based, are only “smart”, not AI.
The core difference between smart and AI is that smart algorithms are not able to reason, they cannot use strategies and cannot make judgments under uncertainty. So, at least we are safe for a while – aren’t we? In my opinion, it will take some time for AI to pose a threat to privacy.
Today, we should worry more about people’s own, intended data leakage. Each of the virtual assistants listens 24 hours, seven days a week. People tell them most of their lives and, very often, the rest will be posted throughout social media.
Therefore, I am much more concerned about the missing public awareness of data privacy. If people are not aware of how to keep things confidential within their private life A.I. will be more likely a benefit than a threat.
With regards to corporate data and governmental organisations, AI or smart algorithms may be used in the near future by hackers to upgrade their cyber weapons. Enterprises and governments must keep their infrastructure up-to-date and enforce reliable 2FA and encryption wherever possible.
How do you see the mobile security industry evolving in the next five years?
We see a very bright future of the mobile security industry over the next five years. The mobile encryption market size is expected to grow from $761.4 million in 2017 to $2,917.9 million by 2022, at CAGR 30.8%. The market is driven by factors such as increased concerns about data security and privacy issues, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets across enterprises, and the need for strict compliance and regulatory requirements.
Everyone knows, most people do only change their behaviour only after a breach or damage – and there will be plenty of data breaches and leakages over the next months and years. The going mobile trend accelerates with each year and most devices are designed for consumer use. There will be a lot of work for the mobile security industry in closing this gap.