Raul Rico
Director General
Nordstern Technologies
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View from the Top

Breaking Paradigms: Mexico Can Export Cybersecurity Solutions

By Cinthya Alaniz Salazar | Thu, 10/29/2020 - 11:46

Q: What makes Nordstern Technologies a unique player in Mexico’s cybersecurity industry?

A: Our mission is to help companies operate safely in a digital environment. One of the principal factors that differentiates us is that we always try to understand in detail what the objectives and strategies of our clients are before we offer a solution. Our goal is to help companies to integrate solutions quickly, using an effective cost model. In our company vision for 2025, there are two key elements: innovation and quality. By that year, we want to be the most-recognized Mexican security brand in these two areas.

Tech development has always been an important activity in our company. Sixteen years ago, we already wanted to break the paradigm of technology in Mexico being acquired from Europe, the US or Israel. An example of where we have innovated is our platform for monitoring and orchestration of IT services, called KlugIT. This has been so successful that Kaspersky, the multinational cybersecurity and antivirus provider, named us as the first center for incident response in the Americas and third globally.

Another area where we are at the forefront is cybersecurity for industrial processes. Security for operational technology (OT) only became an emerging theme in Mexico last year. We have been offering analyses, hacking, protection and other services in the OT area for more than five years.  

 

Q: How did Nordstern Technologies develop its R&D capacities?

A: Nordstern Technologies was a product of an incubation platform over 16 years ago. At the time, incubation activities for startups were actually really new. The goal was to create a software for network assessment and infrastructure monitoring. We realized that if we could not acquire a product, we had to develop one. We began to design algorithms and models that fit the needs of the industry at the time. After a year, we had a product. One of our first clients was a large retailer in Mexico. When the company saw what our software could do, it was immediately sold. Other companies, like Adidas Group in Mexico, also started using it. Adidas went on to implement the software in its operations across all of Latin America in 2008.

Nordstern Technologies continues to have its own R&D division. We are working on the launch of the next-generation KlugIT. This will have new functionalities that will further improve the orchestration of IT services. The goal is to ensure that it truly adds value to business. Today, security is a key driver of business value.

 

Q: How did the pandemic impact your clients’ needs?

A: We understood that needs were changing suddenly and dramatically. Companies had made very large investments to protect assets at their offices. Now, they suddenly had users distributed over many different, barely protected networks. Where the CEO previously was protected in the office by firewalls, intrusion detectors and all kinds of gadgets, now he or she was working from home using a network also used by users who have other interests. The CEO could be sharing sensitive information about company strategy while a child is using the same network to post videos on TikTok or to play Fortnite with complete strangers.

We transformed our portfolio from on-premise managed services to services for distributed users. We joined different solutions with ADSL Infinitum, where a 4G chip offers the client the option to distribute traffic between two different channels, one for sensitive information and the other for less sensitive information. In three weeks, we had launched two new services. This included a solution for a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and pen-testing. The latter has generated high demand. This year, we acquired a company specialized in pen testing as part of our first inorganic growth venture. They are an expert group of hackers who were part of the Top 15 finalists from the 300 people participating in last year’s Defcon hacking conference in Las Vegas. 

 

Q: What new markets are you considering to enter?

A: We have been careful, wanting to consolidate our presence in Mexico first. Last year, we started our incursion into other countries. We are doing this in two ways. One is through a partnership with an established local company that has a similar vision and a portfolio that complements ours. This was what we did in Colombia when we partnered with NSIT. The other strategy is to open our own branch of Nordstern Technologies, where we seek a local player with experience in business, and preferably IT, to take up the role as country manager. This is what we did in Spain.

Our goal for 2021 is to grow in two more countries in South America. We have already identified potential synergies in Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica. From our branch in Spain, we would like to expand into other markets in Europe, probably in three years’ time. We are already doing some scouting in Portugal and Italy and also considering Eastern Europe as an area where we can be very competitive. The US is also on our radar. In the next three years, we will look at expansion to southern US and a bit of the east. We hope to become commercially successful there or to find an investor that will allow us to expand to the north. For us, Texas is the door to enter that market. Hopefully, in four years’ time we will be able to say that we are operating successfully in the US.

Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Cinthya Alaniz Salazar Journalist & Industry Analyst