With many thanks to Ragnar Sigurdsson, CEO of AwareGO, Aviva Zacks of Safety Detectives had the opportunity to find out all about his company’s history and its security awareness assessment tool that is going to be launched soon.
Safety Detectives: What motivated you to start AwareGO?
Ragnar Sigurdsson: I was a penetration tester from 2003-2007, and wherever I went to test, the people were the weakest link. Later, when I went to those companies with my PowerPoint slides and started talking about cybersecurity, I saw people dozing off from boredom. They were definitely not interested, and some were even angry that they had to go through this punishment of listening to me talk about security. It was after one of these presentations that I thought that there must be a better way to get the message across.
Helga, my wife, and I started AwareGO in 2007, and our first product was a sitcom similar to The Office. I think we were trying too hard to be funny. The knowledge we gained from the experience with the early episodes we took into our current production—ultrashort cybersecurity awareness videos. We apply the same recipe for security awareness as marketing experts do for brand awareness.
SD: What would you say is your company’s flagship product?
RS: In the beginning, our flagship product was simply great content, our training videos. Today it’s our videos plus our state-of-the-art learning management system, a cloud-based platform that allows our clients to deliver the training to employees in an efficient and simple manner.
Soon, we’ll be launching our security awareness assessment tool that gives administrators and companies real-time status of the security awareness level and the security culture within the company. And that will be a huge breakthrough for us in six to eight weeks.
SD: How does your company stay ahead of the competition?
RS: We like to think that we have a close connection with our customers. We listen to feedback and we take it into account when we are developing both our content and the software. We get a lot of feature requests that are very valuable for us. We develop quite fast both in content and in software. I would say that listen to our customers and reacting is what will help us stay ahead of the competition.
SD: What would you say are the worst cyberthreats today?
RS: Probably ransomware and phishing because it is a huge business. I remember the days when viruses were not a business. They were just pranks and malicious acts, but now it’s a huge business. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, in 2021, the damages due to cybercrime are estimated at about $6 trillion. So if cybercrime was an economy, it would be number three after the U.S. and China.
SD: Where do you think cybersecurity is headed now that we’re living through this pandemic?
RS: This pandemic has pushed companies to evolve into working from home. In the old days, “old days” being a few months ago, you could guard the castle pretty well, have state-of-the-art firewalls and security measures within this perimeter. But nowadays, there is no castle to guard. People are out in the field. So they have to be trained and made aware of the dangers that exist outside the castle as well.