Startup Spotlight: UAE-Headquartered SpiderSilk Wants To Simplify Cybersecurity In An Increasingly Digital World
Driven by the notion that access to a safe internet is a basic right that needs to be protected, the startup runs on a subscription model with prices that vary depending on the size of the organization.
This article is part of an ongoing series covering startups that have been a part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) accelerator program.
Given the increased acceleration of digital transformation in the past two years, there have been plenty of positive outcomes for the business ecosystem- but it has also exacerbated existing threats within the cyber realm. In fact, a recent report by the World Economic Forum highlights that the risk of cybersecurity threats have only increased in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. “The pandemic accelerated Web 3.0, Industry 4.0, and digital transformation, and that created millions of new entry points for cybercriminals to exploit,” explains Rami El Malak, co-founder and CEO of spiderSilk, a cybersecurity software startup based in the UAE. “With US$1 trillion lost to cybercrime in 2020 alone, cybercrime is a dark cloud that follows all digital initiatives. At spiderSilk, we help companies identify and protect these entry points before cybercriminals exploit them.”
Established in Dubai in 2019, spiderSilk today has offices located in North America as well, and it has plans to set up shop in Saudi Arabia soon too. Driven by the notion that access to a safe internet is a basic right that needs to be protected, the startup runs on a subscription model with prices that vary depending on the size of the organization. “The idea is to simplify cybersecurity, so we can give companies of all sizes a fighting chance to ward off cybercriminals,” explains El Malak. “So, we’ve built proprietary technology that scans the open internet on a continuous basis- that’s 4.3 billion internet protocol addresses. This allows us to help companies build a full understanding of their technology ecosystem, and how they can be compromised.”
According to El Malak, spiderSilk’s no-hassle approach towards scanning for cyberthreats is what sets it apart from its competitors. “Imagine inputting the name of your organization into a solution that doesn’t require any integration, agents, or deployments, and automatically getting a full 360-degree view of all your assets, servers, domain names, and IPs from the outside-in,” he explains. “We essentially provide you with an independent, unbiased view of what malicious actors can see on your organization’s platforms, and how they can attack it. More importantly, we make companies hard targets for these attackers, and through that, help protect individual consumers across the globe.”
With many companies having to suddenly adapt to online businesses and virtual transactions over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, spiderSilk’s services have proven to be very helpful to enterprises, big and small, across the MENA region and beyond. Notably, at the start of the pandemic in 2020, spiderSilk was still in the middle of testing out its minimum viable product (MVP)- and it was an endeavor that led to some unexpected results. “We were focused on building an MVP to test our thesis in 2020, but little did we know that our tech would start to identify severe security issues among the likes of Samsung, EA Games, Verizon, and Xerox,” recalls El Malak. “This prompted us to raise US$2.75 million with the support of Global Ventures and STV in order to rapidly develop the capabilities of our platform and help protect organizations. Today, we work with enterprise partners like ADNOC Group in the UAE, Seera Group in Saudi Arabia, and Qualtrics in the US.”
With a client portfolio that today includes multinationals like Cisco and Accenture, spiderSilk has customers hailing from multiple continents, and it is also working on its Series A funding round, which is aimed towards fueling its growth in North America, as well as the rest of the MENA region.
While such successes have been welcomed by El Malak and his team at spiderSilk, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the company. In fact, it was spiderSilk's out-of-the-ordinary approach to cybersecurity that initially posed many hurdles for the startup. “In our region, we tend to be net importers when it comes to cybersecurity technology, but we’d like to think that we are changing that narrative,” he adds. “And while it sounds counterintuitive, I think that building our startup as an outsider became our biggest advantage. I think that being outside the traditional cybersecurity space and echo chambers, allowed us to take an unconventional path to solving the problem that all internet-facing organizations are facing today.”
He also admits there were plenty of naysayers around him when he started on this entrepreneurial journey. “We've demonstrated that there is deep tech, engineering talent that could come out of this market, but I can say that it was very challenging in the beginning, and we were swimming against the current for the most part,” El Malak says.
In this journey towards beating the odds, El Malak says being a part of the MBRIF accelerator program has been a shot in the arm for the startup. “We are strong believers in partnerships and collaboration across all levels,” he says. “As a startup, being part of a program where you can receive independent, valuable advice and guidance across your entire business has been immensely valuable to us.” Now, with lessons learnt through the MBRIF program as well as a wealth of experience now under his belt, El Malak is hoping to lead the spiderSilk team towards more successes in 2022.