Cyber Security

Smarttech247 CEO, Raluca Saceanu, talks cyber security, AI, and diversity in tech

12th October 2023
Sheryl Miles

Cyber security is a terrain that is constantly evolving. Born from the need to keep up with that evolution, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a formidable ally.

And bridging the space between cyber and AI is Raluca Saceanu, the CEO of Smarttech247, a multi-award-winning provider of AI-enhanced cyber security services. Raluca is a woman who is not only shaping the cyber landscape, she is also closing the gender gap in this male-dominated field – and she’s doing it well.

In this Q&A with Electronic Specifier’s Sheryl Miles, Raluca explores her thoughts on the dynamic relationship between cyber security and AI, as well as her remarkable journey as a woman excelling in the tech industry.

In this interview we uncover the insights, challenges, and opportunities at the intersection of cyber resilience, AI, and gender diversity in the tech world.

What strategies have contributed to Smarttech247’s success, and what do you envision for the company's growth?

One of the key strategies that has contributed to Smarttech247’s success is our unwavering focus and investment in innovation. This commitment has allowed us to remain at the forefront of emerging threats and technologies, enabling us to offer cutting-edge solutions to our customers, such as our flagship MDR platform, VisionX.  

New customer acquisitions also represent a vital step in our approach. By providing customised cyber security solutions tailored to the individual needs of our customers, Smarttech247 has not only attracted but also retained a growing number of valued ‘partners’. It is crucial to consider our customers as ‘partners’ as it serves as a critical aspect of our strategy, differentiating us from other suppliers. Our relationships are built on mutual trust and a unique level of closeness. This is evident in our sincere dedication to a collaborative culture, achieving shared benefits, and prioritising the delivery of value and quality of service to our customers.

This dedication will empower us to stay agile and responsive to evolving threats while offering state-of-the-art solutions to our valued customers. Smarttech247 will continue to develop the strategy around new customer acquisition and will aim to broaden our market presence, both geographically and across different industries. Achieving this expansion will involve targeted marketing and innovative sales initiatives.

When discussing our strategy and approach, it's crucial to highlight the most vital component, which is our people. We take pride in our inclusive and diverse team, a testament to our commitment to equality and inclusivity. Every leader within our organisation understands the immense benefits that come from diverse teams, as they tend to be more innovative and resourceful. We strongly believe that our diversity is a core strength, allowing us to harness the collective intelligence and creativity of our team to respond promptly and efficiently to emerging cyber threats.

A key pillar of Smarttech247’s growth journey is also our strategic tech alliances with leading security players that will allow us not only to expand our portfolio internationally but also enhance the current solutions that we offer to our customers. We are expanding the partner ecosystem that is embedded in VisionX further and we are very excited to announce a few key global partnerships soon.

Additionally, our M&A strategy is important, and we are planning to conduct key acquisitions that align with our vision and enhance our capabilities. These acquisitions will offer accelerated growth and expansion of our product and service portfolio.

How is VisionX contributing to the advancement of AI-enhanced cyber security services?

VisionX is a pivotal part of our growth strategy. It is a cutting-edge managed detection and response system that simplifies security operations. In IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach report, it was reported that it takes roughly 200 days for the average business to identify and report a data breach. Our VisionX platform not only instantly recognises data breaches, but has proactive prevention capabilities, providing 24/7 monitoring and incident response services to ensure that any threats are detected and remediated almost immediately. It's a game-changer in the industry, providing our clients with proactive and adaptive cyber security protection.

We recently relaunched VisionX with a new improved look and feel, offering users an ergonomic approach that simplifies often complex security operations.

Could you elaborate on the significance of the Abnormal Security partnership?

Our collaboration with Abnormal Security represents a noteworthy milestone, offering mutual benefits. We work closely together, combining cloud-based behavioural AI to stop the full spectrum of modern email attacks, including business email compromise, vendor and invoice fraud, advanced credential phishing and more.

However, it's just one element within our larger framework of strategic alliances. I firmly believe that fostering these alliances is a powerful tool in our growth strategy, as it allows us to leverage the strengths and resources of multiple organisations, enabling us to enter new markets, innovate, reduce risks, and ultimately achieve sustainable growth.

Through these strategic tech alliances, we gain access to a wide array of cutting-edge technologies and expertise. VisionX plays a pivotal role in enhancing our capabilities, allowing us to leverage these alliances to their fullest potential. This approach ensures that our clients benefit from a comprehensive suite of solutions that address their needs in the ever-evolving cyber security landscape.

These alliances are pivotal in expanding and enriching our company's offerings. Rather than singling out any specific partnership as significant, we believe in fostering a network of collaborations that collectively strengthen our position in the market.

How do you see the future of AI in the cyber security industry evolving?

AI will certainly have a large impact on the cyber security industry, both positively and negatively. We already are seeing some bad actors are already exploiting Generative AI to make their phishing attacks more effective/convincing (e.g., by using malicious platforms such as WormGPT, FraudGPT, and DarkBERT). We expect AI, and Generative AI in particular, to be integrated into more tools/platforms in the coming years. While we expect that this will make companies more efficient and competitive, as a result of this adoption, we also expect an increase in data security breaches as poorly configured and secured AIs leak potentially sensitive company internal information and documentation.

AI is turbocharging cyber security development at the moment. AI-power threat detection and response is particularly exciting, allowing us to develop solutions that analyse large volumes of data in real-time and can identify suspicious activity, that is not detectable using the relatively simple pattern matching that is common today. This will be particularly beneficial for detecting and responding in real-time to zero-day threats.

What were your expectations and goals for attending the Cyber Expo?

Attending the Cyber Expo was a great opportunity to network with industry peers, showcase our innovations, and learn from others. We gained invaluable insights into the latest cyber security trends, discovered potential partnerships and clients, and, most importantly, shared our expertise to help the overall advancement of cyber security.

What advice would you give to businesses looking to enhance their cyber security posture?

To enhance cyber security posture, businesses should adopt a proactive and layered security approach. This includes employee training, regular security assessments, and staying updated on the latest threats. Additionally, investing in advanced threat detection and response solutions, such as VisionX, is crucial to protecting your business.

However, cyber security is not one-size-fits-all, so it is important to tailor your strategy to your specific risks and vulnerabilities. At Smarttech247 our agility means we can pivot and tailor our cyber security solutions more efficiently compared to some of our larger peers. We aim to be a partner to our clients, rather than just a supplier, and major new customers have highlighted factors like this as the reason for choosing Smarttech247.

Could you share some insights into the importance of continuous innovation and staying ahead of cyber criminals?

Continuous innovation and adaptability are essential in cyber security. Cyber criminals are constantly evolving their tactics, so we must do the same. This means investing in research and development, staying informed about emerging threats, and being willing to pivot quickly in response to new challenges. Staying ahead of cyber criminals requires a culture of constant improvement and learning.

How have you navigated a male-dominated environment, and what advice would you offer to women aspiring to tech leadership roles?

Navigating the male-dominated tech industry has had its challenges, but it's also been incredibly rewarding. My advice to other women aspiring to leadership roles in tech is to be confident in your abilities, seek out mentors and allies, and not be afraid to speak up and advocate for yourself.

I am a big believer in collective intelligence and that diversity is essential to help learn from different perspectives. This can lead to better decision-making and greater innovation in an organisation, which is essential in cyber security to stay ahead of cyber criminals.

How important do you feel it is to close the gender skills gap?

Closing the gender skills gap is not just important; it's essential. Diversity in the cyber security workforce brings a wider range of talents, ideas, and approaches to the table. It's crucial for addressing complex, ever-evolving threats effectively and for building a more inclusive and equitable industry.

At Smarttech247, we are doing our part to help with our Women in Cybersecurity Academy. The Academy curriculum covers the knowledge and skills required to tackle the ever-growing range of cyber-attacks in an intensive, 6-week course. We reward the top performers in the academy with a placement at Smarttech247, which allows us to strengthen our workforce.   

What does diversity in the workplace mean to you?

Diversity in the workplace means creating an environment where individuals from all backgrounds, regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity, feel valued, included, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. It's not just about meeting quotas; it's about harnessing the full potential of a diverse workforce to drive innovation and ultimately success.

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