From Stockholm to Halifax: Why Nova Scotia is the location for cybersecurity
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
More than 95% of the population in Sweden is connected to the Internet, making it one of the most connected countries in the world. As a result, Sweden's cybersecurity industry is incredibly experienced in identifying and protecting against threats.
When Stockholm-based Secure State Cyber decided to open its first international office in Canada, they found Halifax, Nova Scotia had everything they were looking for — and then some. What tipped the scales from Ottawa or Toronto towards Halifax was something you may not expect - the prevalence of Canada's Ocean Supercluster in Atlantic Canada.
We sat down with the Founders and Chairman of Secure State Cyber, along with their first Canadian employee, to learn more about the current state of cybersecurity, the connection to maritime security, and how these trends relate to their strategic growth here in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Q: What does the cybersecurity industry look like today and where are the biggest threats?
A: First and foremost, there is a wide range of programs designed to protect various parts of systems, which is good. However, the complexity of these interconnections has significantly increased over the past decade. As a result, there is now a higher dependency on IT systems and security provisions to keep personal and business data secure.
Threat actors of today are highly-skilled individuals who collaborate and share information, projects, and research. They buy and sell vulnerabilities amongst themselves and they’re doing a better job at collaborating than the industry. This increases land-based threats and is expanding to the marine territory as well.
Q: Why is cybersecurity important to marine industries?
A: The ocean moves goods, people, and information. Ships carrying people and goods also carry a plethora of digital data and information, which must be kept secure. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has recognized this shift in the industry and recently released a report detailing cybersecurity considerations in the marine transportation industry – a report that Secure State’s Senior Security Analyst and first Canadian employee, Justin Gratto, has thoroughly analyzed.
Q: Why did you decide to open your first international office in Nova Scotia, Canada?
A: Canada was easy to choose for us because the country is very similar to Scandinavia. Our Swedish customers trust Canada with their information since we have mutual interests in privacy standards and practices. We looked at several Canadian cities including Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax. In the end, Halifax won us over because of:
- East Coast Location
Nova Scotia’s Atlantic time zone covers North America and all of Europe in the same workday. This location gives us the opportunity to provide 24/7 service to clients, strengthening our position in protecting organizations.
- An Educated workforce
We hire high-level teams with a wide range of expertise, so we need access to top talent. We're confident we'll find this through the region’s universities, including Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia Community College, and the University of New Brunswick. We are looking forward to hiring co-op students and working closely with these post-secondary institutions.
- Canada’s Ocean Supercluster
The presence of the Ocean Supercluster won us over, as the marine sector is very important to our business. The significant defence infrastructure prevalent in the area was also very attractive to us as we build that side of our business.
Q: What is the best part about doing business in Nova Scotia, Canada?
A: Agencies here have supported us in a way we have not experienced before. We have found that people are fair and supportive.
"This is one of the most honest places I have been to."
- Mats Olofsson, Chairman
We also get to meet good people. Since exploring Halifax, we have felt that our partners here in Nova Scotia care about us and our best interests.
"I don’t think we’d be able to have meetings like we’ve had here anywhere else.”
– Jan Karlsson, Co-founder and Senior Security Advisor
As a bonus, we really like Halifax and Nova Scotia because it reminds us of home. The geography of the province is very similar to the geography in Sweden. Plus, there is now an IKEA in Halifax!
Secure State Cyber is the latest company to join Nova Scotia’s growing cybersecurity cluster. Other key companies in this space include BeyondTrust, GoSecure, Bulletproof Solutions, and Track Group Analytics.
Atlantic Canada is gaining recognition for its’ cyber security talent, resulting in a young, globally connected cybersecurity cluster in Nova Scotia.