Impact of cyber threats on business set to increase

“The recent WannaCry attack could be a watershed in cybersecurity awareness,” says Magnet Networks head of product


Public wifi service for millions of sports fans attending at events in London’s Wembley Stadium is provided by Velocity 1, a joint venture with Magnet Networks and Quintain. 

Mark Kellett, ceo of Magnet Networks
Mark Kellett, ceo of Magnet Networks

“We have grown from being a successful Irish business to an international one with sales in the UK, mainland Europe and further afield”, says Magnet Networks ceo Mark Kellett. “We had turnover of €6 million in 2006 and this has grown to €26 million today. We have 108 staff with five of them in London and seven in Pune, India. We have more than 10,000 business customers and we are growing all the time. The change from Magnet.ie to MagnetNetworks.com reflects what we have become.”

The company has also become a leading player in the critically important cybersecurity space through its top of the line cybersecurity platform, Magnet Protect. The platform utilises Palo Alto Networks’ next generation firewall to offer a powerful and comprehensive defence against cyber security threats. It combines protection against ransomware and other advanced cyber threats, with full visibility of all internet usage on a per-user basis, and bespoke web application control, as well as complete management and central updating by security experts.

James Canty, head of product for Magnet Networks
James Canty, head of product for Magnet Networks

“The recent WannaCry attack could represent a watershed in cybersecurity awareness”, says Magnet Networks head of product James Canty. “Up until then a lot of people didn’t believe they could be targets. We are the gateway between our customers and the worldwide web. Magnet Protect monitors all the traffic in and out and protects customers from threats from hackers and so on.”

Businesses regularly get hacked without realising it, Canty notes. “For example, we had a customer in Donegal who was complaining about poor broadband speeds. When we looked at their system we found it had been hacked and was being used for denial of services attacks on a website in India. No business is too small to be hacked. Traditional firewalls are no longer effective against modern attacks.”

The Magnet Protect service has thrown up some quite startling results. “Our monitoring service has shown that clients’ systems are subject to eight times more incoming traffic than the outbound traffic they are generating”, says Canty. “This is an indicator of the level of hacking activity and other attacks going on out there. They are seeking out password, software, operating system and other vulnerabilities. The Palo Alto Networks platform is updated every five minutes so our customers can rest assured that they are fully protected against these attacks and threats.”

The impact on businesses of these threats is set to increase further as a result of the implementation next year of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Organisations whose data has been compromised will be exposed to quite massive fines under the GDPR.

“Organisations will be fined not because they have been hacked but how they respond to an incident”, Canty explains. “No system can guarantee that an organisation won’t be hacked. The fact that the Palo Alto Netowrks platform will give them full visibility of whats happening on their network on a user and machine level coupled with the protection to prevent it happening again will ensure that they are on the correct path to being GDPR compliant from a Cyber Security perspective.”

Magnet Protect is available to all customers regardless of size with the standard version starting at just €25 per month.

The Wembley Park project is an example of the company’s internationalisation. “We are building a network around Wembley Stadium, in partnership with Quintain, to service a major commercial and residential development being built by Quintain Estates, a subsidiary of Lone Star. People living in the apartments will pay for their broadband and telecoms services as part of their rent – it’s a very European model. This is the largest urban regeneration project in Europe at the moment. It’s a smart city project and it will create opportunities for us to work with Lone Star on similar developments internationally in future.”

While international growth is high on the agenda for the company that certainly doesn’t mean they are not paying attention to the Irish market. Quite the opposite in fact. “We are keen to engage with Irish businesses to give them a platform from growth internationally”, says Mark Kellett. “We have the ability to help businesses move into overseas markets and not just by providing them with telecoms, data connectivity and security services. At present, we have ten spaces in our London office which we are offering free to Irish companies to provide them with a launch pad for entry to the UK market.

For the future he sees the growth of the company being based on staying fresh. “Amazon’s success is built on having a day one mentality”, he observes. “The organisation still behaves as a start-up. We have a day zero mentality here. We constantly ask ourselves the question that if we were starting today knowing all that we know today, what would we do differently? What would we change? What would we keep? We apply this to every aspect of our business and our customer engagement in particular. This mentality will be key to our success in future.”

Magnet Networks would like to give a cybersecurity health check worth €3,000 to an Irish Times reader, for more details see magnetnetworks.com/business/irish-times-competition/