12 Nov Interview with Elmar Eperiesi-Beck – eperi
Interviewed by Karla Karathomas
1. Why is it important to think more European in the area of Cybersecurity?
Quite simply because the big US-Tech companies (GAFAM – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) are very present on the European market and they have a very loud voice. For small European companies it’s a great challenge to achieve the same level of visibility. Collaboration is the key for European cybersecurity companies to be heard in the market.
It doesn´t make sense to try and beat the big American companies. Instead, the goal should be to complement them. We enable for example Microsoft to become GDPR compliant by „state-of-the-art” solutions in line with ENISA (European Union Agency for Cybersecurity) requirements. This means that we complement the M365 native security solutions by encryption before the cloud under sole control of the company (keys & encryption) combined with hosting in Europe.
2. Has eperi already expanded in Europe? If yes, where? If not, what were the obstacles you had to face?
We do have customers all over Europe. Our biggest challenges were the differing legislations and IT-security requirements for each and every European country. In this sense, the GDPR is a good development! Thanks to the homogenizing laws across European countries this problem is on a good way to be solved.
3. With the fastly growing digitalization in 2020/21 do you think European companies are jumping the gun on the occasion?
In my opinion, companies were forced to make fast progress with their digitalization during COVID and the change to home office, and cybersecurity and especially data privacy had to follow suit.
A lot of enterprises moved to the cloud, which was a big step for European companies. Especially in the public sector and the European education sector (schools, universities etc.) we see raising demand for European Data Privacy Solutions.
4. Who do you think are the main actors in European tech?
US Tech-providers. I mentioned GAFAM earlier. Those US providers are the main drivers, and like it or not, they are far advanced to European actors and their technology drives Europe. On the other hand, we have a lot of small, specialized, innovative companies in the process of scaling up and customers start to rely on their own, European companies for solutions.
Europe has a long history in data privacy and “privacy made in Europe” is a brand
5. In which areas do you see that Europe has the advantage against competitors from Asia and the US? Where is Europe lagging behind?
Data residency and data protection are the Nr. 1 topic. Due to good data privacy laws from the past we have a big advantage that is seen worldwide. Europe has a long history in data privacy and “privacy made in Europe” is a brand. There is a lot of trust in privacy made by European companies.
Another advantage is the openness of solutions. Open, testable algorithms without any vendor locks. There is a big push back in the market for proprietary and untested security algorithms that create a vendor lock. European Cybersecurity companies – at least the good ones – have recognized this since years and have built their solutions on a solid open basis.
6. In your opinion, how can we strengthen the European mindset in the Tech and Cybersecurity industry? What do European companies need most to internationalize?
Understanding the importance of data protection and a data centric security, the focus needs to be on the protection of data, not the IT-systems – no one can prevent data from being stolen but we can prevent that hackers and others from being able to use the stolen data. Hence we need to focus on what really matters – protection of the data itself. Plus, there is a need for more Investors with a „Silicon Valley“ mindset – to prevent European companies with high potential to be acquired by US Investors as we see it day by day…
7. Why is the ECA a good initiative how does it differ from other organizations. How could we best realize our goal of Europeanization and help companies in the Tech industry?
eperi is one of the founding members of the ECA and happy to work together since then. This has a couple of reasons:
Partnerships: The cybersecurity model with Europe vs America like David against Goliath will only work out in the long run by getting on the market with joint forces.
Visibility: Moreover, from customer’s perspective we see, that it’s hard to overview what is happening in Europe. We need more visibility, which will be easier to achieve with organizations like the ECA to act as a loudspeaker.
Transparency: Categorization & overviews like the ECA Cybersecurity Mapping are very helpful too, for customers and cybersecurity newbies in Europe alike.
8. What is your vision for European Tech and what trends do you see in the European Cybersecurity industry the next 5-10 years?
A couple of things:
Market Consolidation: By stronger collaboration and partnerships European companies are getting stronger and customers benefit from one stop solutions
The big (mostly US) players offer those one stop solutions but are not specialized in anything. Smaller (European) companies are very specialized and innovative but have minor market visibility. Joining forces would make their solutions competitive. Customers would benefit from highly specialized one-stop solutions.
Complement GAFAM: Complementing the far advanced US-technology with our own innovative technologies to enable a GDPR compliant usage is a win-win situation for all sides – customers, GAFAM and European Tech companies.
Accelerate the market: Smaller, more specialized providers are much more agile than the big players. The combination of being faster and more innovative than US tech giants is the big advantage of European companies. Intelligent Partnerships like ECA help to give the Davids, like us, a platform.
Data Sovereignty: Gaia-X is an important step towards data security and Data sovereignty and will be significant in the future.
Cross-border co-operation: Lastly, data protection is cross-border – therefore cross-border initiatives are crucial. International organizations like ECA are important to promote data security and connect companies. With data protection laws becoming more numerous and complicated every day, companies need help with the legislation processes for international expansion.
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