Cyber criminals are launching daily, repeated attacks on businesses around the world. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cyber crime could cost the global economy $575 billion per year by 2020.
Nir Perry, a cyber security specialist and part-time MBA student at MIP Politecnico di Milano, has set out to help fix this problem. In late 2015, he founded Cybewrite, which is developing innovative technology to support insurance providers in underwriting cyber insurance.
Increasingly, businesses are turning to insurance to transfer some of the risk from a potential cyber attack. While cyber insurance is a market with huge potential — PwC estimates that it should reach $7.5 billion by 2020 — it remains largely untapped.
Israel’s thriving tech hub, Tel Aviv — in an area known as the Silicon Wadi — was the perfect place for Nir to develop his business. He’s currently meeting with venture capital investors there and hopes to secure funding later this year.
After finishing Law school, Nir enjoyed a decade-long career in cyber security, including consulting roles at PwC and Accenture in Italy.
How significant is the threat from cyber crime?
It’s really becoming very intense.
In recent years we’ve seen attacks that have caused severe damage to businesses of all sizes. The attack on US retailer Target affected more than 1,000 businesses, while the JPMorgan Chase data breach compromised seven million.
This problem is not going anywhere soon and the insurance industry will play a key role in the future of cyber security.
How did the idea to start-up Cybewrite come about?
I was working for a top-five global insurance company and noticed the growing need for cyber insurance and the lack of tools. The problem is that the insurance industry is missing 20 years of actuarial data, which it needs to understand what the exposure is. If you don’t have that data, how can you know what the risk is and how much you should charge?
Cybewrite was founded to provide a turn-key platform that will bridge this gap and help underwriters understand the risk posed to potential customers. Our uniqueness is not only found in our technology, but also in the fact that our solution is designed for use by insurance professionals who don’t have strong cyber experience.
Why did you decide to pursue a part-time MBA at MIP?
I’m a big believer that a true professional should continuously develop their skills. For me, it was only natural to do an MBA at some stage in my career.
I’ve heard about the trend of online courses but it was very important for me to have a course fully on-site, where you can discuss ideas and opinions with people in person. The real hands-on experience, plus the innovation approach and international environment, were the greatest advantages of MIP.
How have you profited from your MBA experience so far?
The course has had a profound impact on the way I see management today. It’s complementing my skills, [and] giving me a financial education that I haven’t had before. I’m also very lucky to be surrounded by a talented group of people from which I can learn a lot.
A part-time MBA has a really great advantage in that you go to class, you learn something new and then in the coming weeks or months you already have opportunities to use it.
How significant are the opportunities for entrepreneurship in the cyber security space?
It’s an innovative and exciting field that’s changing every day. There’s a growing demand, as more technology is needed to defend different information systems, cloud services and the internet of things.
Why is Tel Aviv such a thriving start-up hub for tech?
In Israel, technology is the key to economic success. Digital innovation, IT, biomedicine and clean-tech are key industries.
Every day in Tel Aviv you have meetups on how to build and promote your start-up. Within a 20 kilometer radius you can learn everything you need about how to start a start-up and how to avoid mistakes. Some of the biggest VCs [venture capitalists] in the world have offices here.
How important is it that MBA students learn cyber security skills?
Lots of people are talking about courses in data analytics and big data; how to use it, how to leverage it. I think they should also discuss what happens if your data falls into the wrong hands. Every executive should have some sort of basic understanding of what cyber security is.