Cybersecurity threats were growing long before the advent of Covid-19, but the migration to remote working has seen that risk grow, like the virus itself, exponentially. For businesses, it has resulted in a crisis of existential proportions.
"Businesses worldwide are facing an increasing number of cybersecurity threats. Attacks are getting more sophisticated and their impact more severe," says Matthijs Egger, Enterprise Ireland's senior market advisor Benelux.
Studies from KPMG find 29pc of CEOs now list cybersecurity as the issue having the most significant impact on their company.
Their concern with the cybersecurity is well-founded - technology company IBM suggests the average data breach in 2020 costs an organisation $3.86m (€3.3m).
The situation is even graver now, with Covid-19 exposing employers to unprecedented levels of cyber-risk as staff work from home, often on their own devices and always on their home networks.
In today's challenging environment, chief information security officers are turning to Ireland for cybersecurity solutions. There are three excellent reasons why.
These reasons are talent, innovation and trust, says Pat O'Grady, the global lead for cybersecurity at Enterprise Ireland.
"Ireland is a major global hub for cybersecurity. It is home to more than 50 world-leading cybersecurity companies, and, as a result, has become an international hotbed of cyber talent," he says.
This cybersecurity strength is the result of what he calls the country's "successful triple helix ecosystem", which is based on bringing business, academia and government together to collaborate on focused objectives.
In Ireland, establishing a world-class cybersecurity cluster was one such objective.
It led to the formation of Cyber Ireland. This body brings together industry, academia and government to represent the needs of the cybersecurity ecosystem in Ireland, funded by Enterprise Ireland and industry.
All this activity helped bring the top five security software companies in the world to Ireland, attracted by its status as an innovation hotspot with globally renowned tech clusters in fields such as machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud technology.
"These areas complement a forward-looking cybersecurity industry that is pioneering the use of AI to defend against the latest threats," says O'Grady.
"R&D centres in Irish universities and national research centres are fuelling this innovation in areas such as data, machine-to-machine security, and cybercrime."
Today more than 6,000 people work in Ireland's cybersecurity industry, a strong talent pool with a highly-skilled, multi-lingual workforce.
The country is home to more than 40 multinational companies with cybersecurity operations, and more than 60 indigenous cybersecurity companies and startups.
Exports in the sector grew 25pc in 2019, an upward trend that is set to continue.
Right now, the world needs trusted solutions from trusted providers.
The Covid-driven rush to remote working means organisations are more vulnerable to cyber threats than ever before, a fact that has pushed cybersecurity, for once and for all, out of IT departments and into boardrooms.
"Cyber criminals and hackers aren't taking a break to let us all adjust, so more businesses are more vulnerable than ever," warns O'Grady.
Companies are turning to award-winning Irish businesses such as Edgescan, which provides vulnerability management and penetration testing globally.
Its web application, network and cloud security solutions help cybersecurity teams reduce risk and cost for enterprise and SME clients.
Demand is also growing at Siren Solutions, a developer of an investigative intelligence platform that sits on top of existing big data infrastructure.
An Irish firm that expertly addresses the issue of remote working is enterprise mobility expert CWSI, which helps organisations cope with the risk from 'bring your own device' work practices, ensuring businesses stay secure in a mobile-first world. It has clients across 38 countries.
Another remote security specialist is Enterprise Ireland client company TitanHQ, which provides web and email filtering as well as secure email archiving. It protects over 7,500 businesses from malware, ransomware, phishing, viruses, botnets and other cyber threats.
To find out more about the critical cybersecurity challenges facing organisations globally, and how Irish companies are helping to combat them, don't miss the Enterprise Ireland Cybersecurity Innovation Series (November 10 to November 13).
Sunday Indo Business