Rui Shantilal, Integrity: “dreaming is the first step to a successful project”

The demand for cybersecurity tools is at an all-time high. We have become technologically dependent and it seems like there’s no end to it.

As cyberthreats get more sophisticated, it becomes increasingly more difficult for firewalls or antivirus software to detect them and provide a response in a timely manner. Because of this, businesses need more complex measures to secure their data.

To discuss the importance of keeping up with cybersecurity, we invited Rui Shantilal, CEO of Integrity, a part of Devoteam, who will guide us on how to reduce the risk of being attacked by cybercriminals.

INTEGRITY has grown exponentially since its launch in 2009. What has your journey been like?

The journey has been amazing and very challenging. It allowed us to grow. We started it with a very well-defined strategy and high presuppositions. I can’t say it was beyond our expectations, but it sure has been thrilling and enriching.

Combining my passions – entrepreneurship and cybersecurity – is in fact a rewarding experience, which involves working hard, but with a great team, which always has the right attitude and is always looking to do things the right way. When this happens on a natural basis, sooner than later the results appear.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? What are the main challenges you help navigate?

First of all, I need to strategically align the organization, so it would continue to dream and be different. The larger we are, the more difficult this accomplishment is, and dreaming is the first step to a successful project. This involves making sure everyone is on the same page, setting the goals, and providing teams with the right mindset and resources for the execution of the targets.

I also keep myself updated on what is related to my core business – cybersecurity. We need to know our stuff, otherwise, I’m not able to be innovative or provide the best services for our clients. Other than that, I believe that surrounding ourselves with an awesome and equally committed team is key – I spend time nurturing and setting the culture of the company.

Numbers also get my attention – a business is sustained by results that are materialized in numbers and cash. Know your numbers, margins, projections, costs, and sales. You can’t follow a path without knowing your current coordinates.

Lastly, I tend to spend some time monitoring and adjusting. Even the most modern aircraft does thousands of micro-adjustments during a flight. We can have a strong plan, but we are not flying on our own and in a fully controlled environment. We need to monitor performance and always be open to adjustments.

What are your thoughts on cybersecurity systems specifically tailored to one’s business? Is it something each organization should invest in, or is it only relevant to large enterprises?

I believe that each organization has its own ecosystem and appetite for risk, which varies from industry to industry. That said, every institution has its own task to tailor the way they take advantage of existing frameworks, best practices, and technologies for their own purposes.

With very few exceptions, I don’t think that it would be effective and efficient for them to develop their own cybersecurity technologies or frameworks, while there are market standards that can be applied, and fine-tuned for the context of each company.

How did the recent global events affect your field of work? Were there any new features added?

At Integrity, prevention is a “bread and butter” activity for us. With Covid, for example, we created specific services to help clients make sure they are implementing teleworking in an adequate manner.

With the increase in malware, ransomware, and wipers, we have been optimizing and helping clients to measure and increase their maturity and resilience. For these kinds of threats, our proprietary malware controls framework should be used by the cybersecurity community. We also optimized our persistent pentesting service (KEEP-IT-SECURE-24) to adjust for the new requirements that clients bring us based on their own new context.

What are some of the worst risks clients can be exposed to if a company they trust doesn’t have quality information security measures in place?

Third-party risk and supply chain attacks are on the rise. Companies choose to outsource, as it is more effective and efficient for them, but this cannot be a tradeoff for lower security controls. Organizations need to ensure that 3rd parties provide an equivalent level of control as if the information or activities were to be processed in-house.

The worst risk is partial or total business disruption, legal lawsuits, reputational damage, loss of revenue, loss of focus, and litigation costs, among others. Of course, the major threat every organization is currently facing is user-related threats. Organizations need to build more cyber resilience to that end as well.

In your opinion, what IT and cybersecurity details are often overlooked by new companies?

In regard to IT and cybersecurity, I believe that we are still very much technology-centric rather than business and data-centric. Although everyone states that cybersecurity is a business concern, rarely is this really the case in practice. It is a trade-off in what relates to cost/benefit, and the business needs to participate in this as a core intervention and not as an attendee.

I also believe that regarding data, business information is somehow overlooked. It is one of our core elements and organizations should monitor such data-related topics as: who accesses it, who sums up or takes out data, and of course, review all the data access permissions on a regular basis.

Let me be more practical on this one - imagine a company that was a victim of data exfiltration - whenever this information was being exfiltrated, say by a user, application or API; it certainly would generate an outstanding and unusual amount of data transfer. It should have been detected and avoided there and then.

What cyberthreats do you think can become a prominent problem in the near future?

As we continue to intensify the utilization of technology, cyberthreats will also continue to evolve and get more sophisticated. Definitely, all sorts of creative and combined threats that require user intervention will continue to thrive and be a prominent problem in the near future.

I believe that in the near future, all sorts of ransom-based attacks will proliferate. I also see an increase in supply chain type of attacks and maybe a combination of both that will result in an amplified threat.

Next, and I really hope I’m wrong on this one, we can expect an increase in user-centric threats and for those, organizations really need to invest in resilience and not just rely on judgment, awareness, or good practices from the users themselves. Companies should run a risk assessment based on the following very simple scenario – “what if an attacker points a gun at my user? Or at my super-user?” – and take it from there.

And finally, what’s next for INTEGRITY?

INTEGRITY has been developing productized services for the last decade that clients in over 19 countries trust. The acquisition of Integrity really provided us a new horizon of growth considering the large client range that Devoteam already works with, and it allows us a more robust support network to strengthen and develop more new approaches for this evolving world of cybersecurity.

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