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Interview – Ciaran Rafferty – Clearswift

Interview – Ciaran Rafferty – Clearswift

DAN ASSOR [00:00:02] So hello and welcome back. Before we move on to our next guest, just a reminder to like and comment for those watching live. And also to make sure that you interact and connect with your colleagues and peers within the session. So just like to welcome Ciaran Rafferty from Clearswift. He’s the MD. Good morning Ciaran. How are you today?

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:00:25] I’m good, thanks. You?

DAN ASSOR [00:00:27] Good, I’m perfect. So, Ciaran, let’s get straight to it. It would be great to understand a bit more about Clearswift and its products and services.

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:00:35] Okay, so Clearswift has been about for about 25 years. You may, people may have heard of Minesweeper back in the day. That was a Clearswift product and then we moved into adaptive DLP and really protecting critical data. And we’ve got about 1800 customers worldwide. We’re in pretty much 50 plus countries around the world and we have 70% of our business really comes from government, defence and finance and out of the top 100 customers that we’ve had, their average tenure of staying with us is between 15 and 17 years. They’ve stayed with us quite a long time and our staff also stay with us.

DAN ASSOR [00:01:19] So you must be doing something right.

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:01:22] Exactly. Exactly. You know, keep it simple is the name of the game. And focus on, you know, protecting the data basically.

DAN ASSOR [00:01:28] Okay, and how is a consolidated vendor trend impacting the worldwide cybersecurity market at the moment?

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:01:37] Well, it’s quite relevant for us. So we were purchased in December of last year by Help Systems. Help Systems is an organisation that has a number of businesses that work in security and automation. So really, the strapline is build a better I.T. for the company and underneath that is penned by two pillars, automation, which is really robotic process automation and A.I. and then cybersecurity on the other side. So in that cybersecurity bucket, you’d have Clearswift. We’ve recently purchased Titus and Bowdon James, who are leaders in a consolidation or classification market. And then we also in probably a couple of years prior to that, we bought the Lenomo, which had the go anywhere product, which was their manage file transfer. So really, we’re looking at the whole data end to end for the customers. And I think, you know, when you look at consolidation, it’s gonna happen a lot more specifically around this little crisis that we will see ourselves in at the minute. But, you know, you only have to go back to RSA, you know, last year and walk around the floors. And, you know, it’s a minefield out there in terms of the amount of companies that are are operating. But the customers, they’re kind of wanting fewer vendors, but they still want that best in class security. So I think, you know, it’s easier to train staff, it’s easier to manage policies if you have an integrated solution. So I think there’s going to be more and more that over the coming months and years. And definitely you’ll see a lot more M&A from ourselves.

DAN ASSOR [00:03:17] Sure. Yeah. Looks like you obviously making a lot of moves in that area. You mentioned the government in general. How do you think things like the government have had to make rapid and I guess often unplanned changes to keep going during the pandemic?

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:03:34] Everyone’s a critic when you’ve got a rear-view mirror. So it’s, I think they’re doing all right. Personally, I think it’s you know, it’s something that nobody foresaw. I think they have managed amicably. We’ve had long relationships with many of the G7 countries around the world in the government space. And, you know, I think over the term, you know, the years, it isn’t just a quick move. But over the years, we’ve built up that level of trust that they can come to us. And also, I think they’ve been able to be relatively fleet a foot in the businesses that they’ve worked with in the past that, you know, fundamentally it’s all about trust, right? So, you know, they want to make sure they’ve got a trusted environment where they can work with people that are in and that trusted circle really?

DAN ASSOR [00:04:22] Sure. And also, I noticed that help systems has been offering free automation and security solutions during the crisis. So tell us a bit more about that please.

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:04:32] Yeah, we’ve taken basically all of our solution sets and offered to customers or, you know, for instance the NHS and various areas around that to try and make it easy for people to adopt and take up different platforms if they need it. So, you know, it’s not a case of one size fits all. But, you know, there will be occasions where a number of our solutions will be used and on our website they have the ability to go to. Pick and choose whichever they want. And then we’ll get that kind of relationship. We kind of have a policy of give before you get really it’s kind of, you know, look after the people at the time of of of challenges and then if you do that well, I think people remember you for all the right reasons rather than the wrong ones, which is let’s go make a quick, quick buck or a quick dime. It’s not a really long, good long term strategy, we think.

DAN ASSOR [00:05:26] Sure, that’s a good mantra to live your life by. In your opinion, is the biggest threat to an organisation, the technology or the humans beings sort of using it. Do you think? Do you think people are now more savvy?

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:05:41] Well, I think people are definitely becoming more savvy. That’s for sure. But today, I think, you know, people are people. Right? And, you know, human instincts are what they are. So that, you know, from a customer perspective, I think it’s really a case of if they have the ability to have very granular policies, which is something that not all organisations do. They can be around in the business for a very short period of time and they can all talk about A.I. and everything else that’s Machine Learning. But the fact of the matter is that at the core of really what matters is, is an ability to unpack it, and unstructured data and find out what is really devilish in there and take it out and let it go forward and that that, you know, helps companies ensure that they’re not just reliant on the human factor of being really self-sufficient. But I think that people are a lot more aware than they’ve ever been. And there’s a lot more fishing sort of type testing that goes around in organisations that help as well. So it’s a bit of both really.

DAN ASSOR [00:06:46] And do see different attitudes in different territories or do you see a commonality between them.

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:06:51] Yeah, I know there’s definitely different attitudes in different territories. I think, you know, in our German business, for instance, they are very fastidious around how things are operated and the clinical factor that they would work to and we have quite a successful engagement where we look at the critical infrastructure organisations in the German market and we package things so that they can actually buy them and then build on it rather than just try and take everything at one go. To the Japanese market, which is very different and very challenging to work in, quite honestly, because you really have to have local people on the floor, on the street who know the cultures and the businesses and the way that the distribution model works over there. So there are very different flavours, depending on which market in the world you’re really focussing on. But because we focus on predominantly critical infrastructure, defence and governments and financial services, we tend to find that they, you know, all have backchannels within their own circles that you sort of allow us to propagate into those territories quite easily because they trust us in one particular part of a G7 country. They’re going to maybe be confident to trust us and others. And that’s generally how we get around that.

DAN ASSOR [00:08:15] Thank you for that insight. Just before we wrap it up, it will be useful. Do you think companies view of security will change once we return to the new normal?

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:08:30] Definitely, you know, there’s no two ways about it. The CIO of an organisation and the CCO of an organisation. You know, if you look at our individuals that we have, you know, we’re worried as anybody to make sure that, you know, nothing bad happens within our business and every company will be thinking about that. And it’s not just because of the data that they will lose and the possible fines that they will get but it’s reputational damage, right? And people, you know, buy people and buy businesses because they trust them. So I think that the CIO and CCOs are definitely going to be on a board-level footing a lot more and I think their budget requests will be considered very, very more keenly, should we say, than they have been in the past because they’ve really been having to fight for every dollar that they’ve got. And they need to do more with less, quite frankly. And that may hopefully change for them in the future.

DAN ASSOR [00:09:23] I certainly hope it does. Thank you so much, Ciaran.

CIARAN RAFFERTY [00:09:27] It’s been a pleasure Dan.

DAN ASSOR [00:09:29] That’s Ciaran Rafferty of Clearswift. We’re now going to go to a quick break and then we’re going to speak to Mariana from DarkTrace.