Berlin So Safe knows how cybercriminals operate. And the Cologne start-up uses its knowledge to prepare companies to defend against digital attacks. “We want to improve the safety culture in companies,” says company co-founder Niklas Hellemann.
So Safe starts with the most common gateways: the employees. They are made aware of threats and trained to react. The company has developed a learning platform that conveys knowledge via video or quiz. Employees are forwarded to this if they click on training phishing mails or log in with personal data on prohibited websites.
In the meantime, corporations and medium-sized companies such as Ceconomy, Rossmann, Aldi Nord or Faber-Castell are relying on the offer. Customers pay a fee per employee for using the So Safe offer. “Cyber security has been gaining in importance for years. Large companies continue to invest heavily in this space, despite the severe macroeconomic challenges they are currently facing,” said Judith Dada, general partner at venture capitalist La Famiglia, which has an investment in So Safe.
Who is the person you are talking about?
So Safe was started in 2018 by Niklas Hellemann, Felix Schürholz and Lukas Schaefer. “We then very quickly had our first customers and thus our first sales,” recalls the psychologist Hellemann, who also worked as a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.
And the start-up has been growing since the beginning: “Demand has increased again because the attacks are increasing – including the successful ones,” says the founder. In the meantime, nobody can rely on phishing mails being noticed because of spelling or grammatical errors.
>>Read more about this here: This is how you can protect yourself against phishing and cyber attacks
This also increased the interest of investors. According to data service Crunchbase, they have supported So Safe with a total of 73 million dollars so far. “We are well capitalized,” says Hellemann. There are currently no negotiations on a new round of financing. The company now has 370 employees and, in addition to Cologne, also has offices in Berlin, Amsterdam, London and Paris.
Why is that important?
According to a study by the IT consultancy MHP in cooperation with the Baden-Württemberg State Criminal Police Office, almost every second company, regardless of sector, was the target of attacks in 2020 and 2021. According to the Bitkom industry association, 25 percent of German companies suffered damage from phishing – in 2021 it was still 18 percent.
Just recently, Commerzbank board member Jörg Oliveri del Castillo-Schulz said that Commerzbank now spends significantly more money on protection against cyber attacks than in the past. This then not only flows into the development of extensive safety systems, but also into an improvement in safety culture.
That’s where So Safe comes in. Its learning elements are based on changing behavior in the long term and sustainably. “In this way you can demonstrably reduce the risk emanating from attacks,” says Hellemann. Employees are more attentive if they have clicked on training phishing mails. They then reported incidents more frequently.
Who are the competitors?
So Safe’s competitors are mainly located in the USA. One of the leading cybersecurity companies there is Proofpoint, which now also offers interactive training courses. Two years ago, Proofpoint was acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $12.3 billion. Smaller competitors include Cofense, a provider of intelligent anti-phishing solutions, and US cybersecurity platform Knowbe4. According to Hellemann, So Safe scores well internationally with the “European glasses on data protection”.
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So Safe has set itself big goals. “We come from the homeland of data security and have the opportunity to contrast US companies with an industry leader from Europe,” says Hellemann. Investor Acton Capital also agrees. In view of the increasing danger situation, So Safe is in pole position to become a global champion made in Europe, says Julius Lühr.
More start-up checks:
According to Hellemann, the threat posed by artificial intelligence (AI) is now being increased again. “This allows phishing emails to be scaled differently and fed with LinkedIn information, for example,” he warns. He expects a sharp increase in attacks in social engineering – i.e. the manipulation of people so that they disclose sensitive information.
Voices could now be cloned very realistically and media content could be falsified. In order to better prepare people for the new circumstances, he wants to expand the So Safe range as quickly as possible with modules on the topic “How do I use generative artificial intelligence from a data protection perspective?”.
More: This is how you can protect yourself against phishing and cyber attacks
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