Industry

‘Cybersecurity is now a boardroom issue’

Maninder Singh, corporate VP, cybersecurity services, HCL Technologies.

Maninder Singh, corporate VP, cybersecurity services, HCL Technologies.  

Those who ignored security paid for it with ransom attacks: Maninder Singh

The past year-and-a-half has been an inflection point in cybersecurity with the battle against lack of awareness among businesses and the public sector largely being won, mainly following the two global ransomware attacks — WannaCry and NotPetya — according to Maninder Singh, corporate VP, cybersecurity services, HCL Technologies.

“If you go back to early 2017 or 2016, I would say it was still an awareness battle. The last 1.5-2 years have been very defining in the battle, especially when some of these very high-profile compromises globally happened across financial industry, ATM machines [being impacted], factories shutting down... I think people realised that this [cybersecurity] is not something that they can take lightly and it became clearly the middle of the conversation, rather than being a side conversation,” Mr. Singh said in an interview to The Hindu.

He added that with ‘softwarisation, digitisation’ and rapid adoption of IoT, cybersecurity has become very core to business strategy. “Those who ignored security in last 2-3 years have paid for it with all these ransom attacks.

“I would say that cybersecurity, being a technical issue, which was not in the boardroom, is now a boardroom issue,” he said.

More allocation

Asked if the increase in awareness has also pushed up the security budgets, Mr. Singh replied in the affirmative.

“The numbers really do the talking here.” He explained that about three years ago, the security budget in an IT investment project — be it an upgrade project or a client building a new data centre or application — security would consume less than 5% of about $100 spent on the project.

“Today, that spend is on a lower-end at about 9% and upper-end at about 14-15%, so there is 3-4 fold increase and we can see this across the world... in Asia, Europe, America, it is a universal trend, where we see a dramatic change in budget composition.”

HCL Technologies, too, has increased investments at least “2-3 fold” in the cybersecurity space across infrastructure, technology and people in the last three years.

“There are two things we did as a business strategy: we carved out security and amalgamated a lot of our businesses together to create a much larger business for security about three years ago… we ensured that across our infrastructure, application, engineering, BPO business there is one big security umbrella, and that will bring domain expertise.”

New centre

As part of additional investments in the space, HCL Technologies is also looking at adding a new Cyber Security Fusion Center — which monitors networks on real-time basis to detect threats faster and respond better — in Australia, Mr. Singh said.

The company currently has two centres in India — Noida and Chennai — one in Dallas, U.S. and one in Gothenburg, Sweden.

According to industry estimates, the size of the cybersecurity services and products market is pegged at about $120 billion with a forecast of growing to $200 billion in the next 3-4 years.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 8:20:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/hcl-and-cybersecurity/article26831242.ece

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