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Guardsman and partners develop cybersecurity tech, launch GCI

Guardsman Group has partnered with two tech entrepreneurs to launch a new system they developed as a cybersecurity tool.

The partners have formed Guardsman Cyber Intelligence, GCI, which is the product of an investment pitch from Ryan Sterling and his business partner, Omar Edwards, who needed backing to develop the system.

“We knew we had a good product, but we wanted a partner to build it out, Sterling told the Financial Gleaner following Wednesday’s launch of the new operation.

Companies Office of Jamaica records show that GCI was incorporated on December 29 last year, with 100,000 issued shares. Guardsman holds 57,000 shares equating to 57 per cent ownership, while Sterling through his company ARC Sterling Inc, and Edwards through his company Vulteris LLC split the rest of the shares, equally.

The six directors of GCI were listed as Sterling, Edwards, Neil Robinson, Guardsman Managing Director Vinay Walia, Nicolas Benjamin, and Guardsman Chairman and founder Kenneth Benjamin.

GCI is entering a developing market where Jamaica currently looks to other countries for IT security products.

Cybersecurity systems normally come bundled as a suite of services to cater to larger IT systems at scale. The result is that tech companies such as tTech, Symptai, and others, act as resellers for security software provided by companies such as McAfee, Norton, and Avast. These systems provide some protection from computer viruses and other IT vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malware and ransomware, with perpetrators successfully demanding the payment of a ransom up to 60 per cent of the time, according to IT expert Dr Corlane Barclay.

Speaking at the launch of GCI, Barclay warned that Jamaica ranks too low among the list of countries worldwide that are tracked by the Global Standard Security Index of the International Telecommunications Union.

In the 2022 ITU report, Jamaica ranked 106th out of 182 countries or 16th out of 35 countries in the Americas, for IT systems vulnerability.

“Those are not numbers that we should be proud of. It is saying that we need to do so much more than what we’re doing to be able to effectively respond to cybercrime,” Barclay said.

Sterling says the GCI system was developed totally in Jamaica, using local talent but with an international client?le in mind.

“We built the architecture from scratch using Omar’s knowledge of building solutions and services for Fortune 100 companies worldwide. We got a 10-person team of talented Jamaicans including software developers and security analysts and we did the buildout over two years,” Sterling said.

“We’ve developed software that can be tailored to the client’s needs having regard to company size and the type of business they run. It therefore becomes unique to your company.”

He said GCI has a security operations centre, or SOC, that provides for up 24-hour monitoring and intervention if necessary. Additionally, GCI will offer protection in three areas: managed threat detection and response; penetration testing and red-teaming, where GCI will deliberately behave like malicious actors to seek out and fix system vulnerabilities; and brand protection across the web, including the dark web, Sterling added.

He said the GCI system took two years to build and that its services would be on offer to everyone, including “the mom and pop shops, SMEs, government agencies or enterprise-level” clients.

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