(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Fazeena Saleem | The Peninsula
Doha: A homegrown technology funded by Qatar Foundation (QF) has given Qatar the potential to play a leading role in the global fight against cybercrime.
Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) — part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation (QF RDI) — has supported the Qatari company Application Design for Global Solutions (ADGS), co-founded by Hassan Al Ansari, Christophe Billiottet, and a team of engineers directed by an Argentinian expert, Nahuel Gonzalez, to develop STROKK, a software that adds an extra level of cybersecurity. The software uses behavioural biometrics to combat cyber threats.
ADGS has also now been named as the first beneficiary of QF RDI's ‘Innovation Coupon', a fund designed to benefit companies that have the capacity and technical knowledge to develop their product or service, but require more support to resolve a specific technical or business challenge. Based on behavioural biometrics, such as human-centric technology that analyses how people type on a computer keyboard, rather than just what they type, the innovation aims to combat data breaches that pose a threat to users of digital tools such as smartphones, tablets, and computers across the globe.
The technology has already been deployed within Qatar in sectors where the risks, and repercussions, of cyber threats are considered to be high, such as the financial sector. STROKK has been adopted by international banks, and perhaps even more importantly, is being tested by some military and defence intelligence services in Europe and South America for potential use.
It was also recently showcased in Kuwait at the third edition of the MENA Dojo, a unique regional accelerator programme organised jointly by QSTP and global venture capital firm 500 Startups. Kuwait was the first country to buy copies of STROKK software from ADGS.
Although the idea for the software came to Al Ansari, Billiottet, and Gonzalez four years ago, they needed financial support to develop it into a product that would achieve their goal of enhancing global data security.
Having heard about QSTP and its role in supporting tech entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into reality, Billiottet and Al Ansari approached the QF member with a detailed proposal that reflected their product's purpose.
'From encouraging our idea, to supporting us to the point where we could market our software both in Qatar and abroad, QSTP's and QF's role in the development of the product was crucial, Billiottet said. 'It's only because of the funding we have received through Qatar Foundation that we were able to develop it in a way that allows it to be launched globally, to countries such as Kuwait, Turkey, Algeria, Iraq and Argentina.
Hassan Al Ansari
'You can have the best idea in the world, but without time, money and resources, it will remain an idea. Thanks to QF, our algorithms have placed Qatar ahead of countries such as Germany and the US, in improving behavioural biometrics for cyber-security.
According to Al Ansari, ADGS is already a serious actor in Qatar's high-tech export sector. 'With almost 10 percent of Qatar's high-tech exports, ADGS is already contributing to achieving the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030, said Al Ansari.
He said QF was elevating Qatar's capacity and impact in the field of technology development, just as it has done in education and health.
In a global context, STROKK's development is quite timely: a 2018 study by IBM revealed that, worldwide, the average cost of a data breach is over $3m, with the US and the Middle East being the most affected areas. An estimate of 4 billion passwords are stolen every year, and 83% of the data breaches come from hacked passwords.
'The concerns for privacy and security are perennial issues that companies involved in producing smart devices have to deal with. At the moment, you have solutions based on biometrics, such as fingerprint or facial recognition. When these biometrics are being compromised, so is the identity of the user, for biometrics cannot be replaced. And, the consequences can be devastating, said Billiottet.
'Behavioural biometrics address the limitations of biometrics. Just as your signature is unique to you, so is the way you type on a keyboard. STROKK is a software that learns the way you type and clearly recognises you from anyone else.
It adds a security layer to any system, in any language. It even makes stolen passwords useless to hackers by knowing how you type. The advantage is that behaviour, unlike biometrics, can be consciously changed by the user to eliminate any prospective risks, he added.