Karl Fitzpatrick: Welcome back to South East Radio’s Business Matters, with me Karl Fitzpatrick. Before the break, Andrew Owen, the branch manager of Bank of Ireland and Wexford provided us with an overview of the local property market and provided some great tips to those seeking a mortgage. My final guest this morning is Graham Mulhern of Be Secure Online, a business which provides virus protection software solutions to the end user. Graham, we will be discussing the area of internet security and your business Be Secure Online shortly. But first, provide us with an insight into your own career path.
Graham Mulhern: I started 30 odd years ago. Like so many before me, I got the boat to Euston Station in London. I worked in pubs and building sites and eventually got a job with the software company in the – near the city in London. Worked in that for about seven, eight years. I gave that up when the sort of business ran out of steam in the early 90s, took some time off and came back to Ireland and started my own business in about 1993 and that business ran out of Dun Laoghaire and Bray and we sold business software to customers around the world but particularly in Britain and Ireland and France and Germany and went really well for 15, 20 years. We got up to about 20 staff or so and was delighted with that. But unfortunately a couple of years ago, we sold most of that company and I have been looking around for opportunities since and I’ve now started this new business BeSecureOnline.co.uk.
KF: So how did that opportunity come about?
GM: Great question again Karl. I took some time off after working for myself and we’re running a business for 20 years and in 2013, became very apparent with the growth of the smartphone and the needs of people in that area, along with the fact that I wanted to really get into the online space, having worked in an office for 20 odd years. I really wanted to get into having an online business. So the next opportunity I pursued, I wanted to do online and that’s what BeSecureOnline.co.uk is. It’s an online business. We’re serving the needs of people and consumers in the online security space and so that’s what I’m doing at the moment.
KF: So who are your typical clients for this business and what traits are these clients looking to protect themselves against?
GM: Well, the clients are people using mobile devices, which is smartphones, the Samsungs, the Apples, everyday, the tablets, the iPads, the desktops, the laptops, all of those and the average house now may have up to 15 of those if they’ve got three, four kids. So my typical client on our side is the single individual, the unmarried user. Even those guys have four to five devices these days. They might have twofold, one laptop and a desktop and even those guys have the need to have a security product on their telephone and obviously with parental control, concerns and internet concerns for parents. The big market is the home user.
KF: So what does your product protect against?
GM: Sure. Well, the most important thing first off is to make sure that people’s online experience and when they connect with the online world with gaming, with apps, with dating services, with trading services, with watching videos, that they’re not sharing too much information, that their banking experience is safe, that their email is safe from malware, Trojans, virus and all of that. So those are the first level of threats that people have to deal with and whatever you do, you need to have something, even if it’s free, which I’m not an advocate of; but still you ought to have some kind of security service on your desktop or your device.
KF: Look, we’re all familiar with having security products on PCs and laptops. It might not be automatically something that people will think about that look, I have to protect my smartphone and then of course moving on to the smart TV. Do I need security for that as well?
GM: Yes, I think so. Google came out the end of last year and said that the majority of the internet experience has now been enjoyed from some kind of phone. So the desktop is down to less than 20 percent and the phone and the mobile device is up over 60, 70 percent now. So it has completely changed. Samsung and Apple have absolutely no interest in providing you with security products. You are just as much at risk on a telephone or a smartphone as you are with a desktop or a laptop. You are likely to suffer exactly the same problems. You can download bad apps. You can get email viruses. You can get a lot. People need to be aware that if they’re spending time and people are spending – and kids are spending up to 80 percent of their time on devices and anyone who has given a child a smartphone knows that after school, it can be a real problem to get them to do their homework and all this sort of things. So parental control and all this sort of things are very much something that people need to consider and yes, basically phones are as risky to end users as a computer is.
KF: Now Apple really promoted themselves on the fact that look, you can’t get a virus on our machine.
GM: Really? Well that’s simply not true and Apple is irresponsible in pushing that message but they have no interest in changing that and neither does Samsung. Samsung – Android phones are regarded as being slightly more – less safe than Apple phones but it’s simply not true. I have emails on my iPhone which is on the desk over there Karl in front of you and it received two notices this morning from what looked like UK customers and Irish revenue and both of them had viruses in them.
KF: Is most of the attack that consumers are facing today, is it coming through email?
GM: Yes, that is the most common way. If you have an email address that is available on the internet and many people do through their Facebook accounts, their LinkedIn accounts, or other places through gaming or other services, online services, and many people have up to 30 online services on their phones nowadays or elsewhere. Those email addresses are publicly available and can be attacked because they’re shared by everybody.
KF: For any parents listening to the show this morning, is there any guidance that you would give them to make sure their children can stay safe online?
GM: Yeah. I have alluded about Apple and Samsung a few minutes ago but to give them their credit, they do have parental controls. They’re standard in their phones. You can switch them on. They are very basic. You can buy something from a company like us, Be Secure Online and our F-Secure SAFE product with time limits, times when you want people to go on, the type of sites that you want kids to have access to. But you can’t even with the basics have a very basic level of control with your kids. Most important thing is to engage with the kids and trying to find out what they’re using. Usually it’s a lot more than just Facebook and they’re much more likely to be into the likes of Snapchat and things like that.
KF: From a business perspective, what potential threat should we be aware of and how can we prevent the occurrence of such violations?
GM: Businesses are succumbed to exactly our – suffer exactly the same problems. The email is a big source. The Indian emails scam victims in. That’s a popular one. The Nigerian email, can you believe that’s still doing the rounds 20 years later?
KF: That’s still working.
GM: Still works and it’s so popular in Nigeria, the government actually figures it into the national GDP, one or two percent every year. That’s still true. So that one still works but the Trojans with business tend to be to attack the servers, get through the firewalls and try and lock down the business for a day. They can be very serious. Well, there’s a whole range of enterprise level products out there in the marketplace but the first thing is due diligence and taking care and being careful about what you do and don’t – make sure you have your firewalls up.
KF: Talk to me about cybercrime.
GM: Cybercrime. Yes. The important stuff there is that Google – as we said about Google, 80 percent of your time is spent online nowadays. I was reading in Wired magazine yesterday that there are kids in India who get together in groups before they go to school in the morning and they get together and their job is to quickly send out a few viruses and when they get back from school, to check how many people they’ve damaged. Obviously there are organised crime gangs in Russia and elsewhere in what used to be the old Iron Curtain countries and indeed inside the European Union. Cybercrime is a major problem. It’s a major problem with terrorism. It is a growing concern for a lot of people. It’s not something really that I think the home user needs to concern themselves with too much. The problems they are exposed to are not a series of cybercrime. But cybercrime is a growing problem and it really requires a new level of protection.
KF: I suppose the problem with that sector is that there are new viruses coming out all the time and more complex and more complicated viruses. So speaking to you as a security expert in that respect, what are you doing to make sure that your product stays ahead of that?
GM: Well, they say there’s a million websites out into the internet every day. It’s estimated there are anything like a – something like 50,000 new threats, somewhere between 25,000 or 50,000 new threats every day on the internet. Viruses and malware and Trojans deliberately put out into the market by the sort of people that do that, whatever. If you want to call them criminals or teenagers, whatever. But there’s – that’s why people ask – there are subscriptions. Why can’t you buy antivirus software? Why is it a subscription? You have to pay a subscription because every day there are new threats. So you need to be a member of a service because it’s only by being a member of the service that you can stay in touch. So all of these companies be it McAfee or F-Secure, our own company, we issue new updates to protect you against the threats that are launched daily.
KF: Now there are a few big players in the online security market. So how have you differentiated Be Secure Online from your competitors in order to gain traction in the market?
GM: Great question, Karl. Thank you. BeSecureOnline.co.uk and we principally sell in the UK although we’re based in Dun Laoghaire and Bray. We decided to be – to approach the market in a really simple way. As my wife says, I just want it to work. I want it to be simple to install. I want it to be quick to install. I don’t want to have to call an expert and I don’t want to have to be an expert. So we did a lot of research in this and we identified products and we want to put products on our site that fit that bill. Easy to use, quick to install, don’t need an expert, just work. We want to – a lot of these sites that are out there are very technical, very IT-oriented and quite difficult to understand and we just want to take a friendly home consumer type of way and bring products to people that fit that bill.
KF: Now free antivirus and security software is commonplace in the market. So, many of our listeners this morning may be wondering, “Why should they pay for a service that is already freely available?”
GM: Another great question Karl. You’ve really nailed it there and this is what I feel very strongly about. Free is no longer free in the internet and newspapers are no longer free. They’re not making a great deal trying to get you to pay for them. But in the antivirus world, if you are not paying a provider, how are they paying for it? You’ve got to ask yourself that question. Unfortunately the answer now is all of these obscure languages to disguise it and they say we are working with third party providers and we will share your information discreetly with them. Frankly they are selling your contacts. They’re going into your Outlook or into your contact box on your iMac or your MacBook. They’re selling your browsing habits. They’re selling everything about you in order to make a return. So there are very significant players out there in the marketplace that are allegedly free but they are taking your information and distributing it. So if you want to know how come you’re receiving emails from people you never heard from before, check out your free internet services, one of which is your antivirus provider and you need to consider why am I not paying for services online because online someone has to pay for it. There are no longer deep, endless pockets out there willing to just pay people or to provide products and services for free. So ask yourself that question. Why am I using free services? I’m a very strong believer if you’re using free, even if you don’t buy from us at Be Secure Online, buy from somebody because you will be better off.
KF: Final question for you this morning Graham is what would be your top tips for minimising exposure to virus and security threats?
GM: Firstly buy some antivirus software. Install it in every device. Try and look up YouTube to get how can I get best use this product on this particular device. There is some fantastic instructional stuff on best deployment of antivirus products including our own on YouTube. It shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes and if you take that basic level of security and apply it to every device in your life, you will find that you’re much better off and you will have less bother and you will enjoy the internet because connecting with the internet is something people are doing more and more up to 80 percent of their time in some cases, which is an alarming amount of time. But you really ought to just take the simple steps and there’s an awful lot of stuff particularly on YouTube which is just watching a video and then going repeating that on your phone or your laptop and you should be fine.
KF: Well, that was Graham Mulhern from Be Secure Online and I would like to thank Graham for his contribution to this week’s show.
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