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Diego Matute has seen first hand how the pandemic, and remote/hybrid work has increased cyber threats companies face, and driven innovation in cybersecurity.

“I think what it did is accelerate what we thought was the natural next conclusion, that you should be protecting your remote workers,” said Matute, CEO of Cyphercor, a Kanata North-based company specializing in multi-factor authentication (MFA). “The pandemic not only heightened the risk of cyber-attacks but also broadened their scope, making cybersecurity a critical concern for businesses of all sizes.”

In a recent interview with The Networker, Matute reflected on the early days of Cyphercor, emphasizing the initial challenges in bringing multifactor authentication to the forefront of cybersecurity solutions.

“In 2011, we were basically doing a lot of education. We were educating the customer, educating the investors, educating potential partners about the importance of this thing,” he said.

This period of educating and advocating for better security measures laid the groundwork for the significant role MFA would play in the pandemic era.

The shift to remote work that came with the pandemic brought with it unique cybersecurity challenges almost overnight. Organizations that had previously not considered extensive cybersecurity measures found themselves vulnerable to attacks.

“You authenticate with a password, but when everybody goes remote, and then they realize, whoa, we don’t have that protection of being physically at the network. We have to protect that.” This realization marked a turning point, driving a surge in demand for advanced cybersecurity solutions, he added.

Under Matute’s leadership, Cyphercor responded to these new challenges by innovating and adapting its solutions and worked to create user-friendly, seamless MFA solutions that could be easily implemented across various sectors. Matute stresses the importance of user experience in cybersecurity: “Making it simpler is really important. And that’s a big conversation we have now.”

With a March Road office, Cyphercor has always had its foothold in Kanata’s tech hub. These days, he said that the company’s workforce is spread across Canada, with many working from home. The company’s customers include massive multinationals and government departments, to businesses who employ fewer than 50 people.

No longer needing to spend much of its focus on education, Cyphercor has customers in more than 50 countries worldwide, and more than 10 million authentications a month through its platforms.

In fast, many Government of Canada employees will know LoginTC – that’s Cyphercor.

A history in Kanata North

Matute himself is a product of Kanata’s tech park. He grew up in Bridlewood and worked at Nortel as a 15-year-old co-op placement while attending A.Y. Jackson High School.

“I was a webmaster initially,” he reminisces, “and then they saw that I was really into it, and they would give me other projects.”

Reflecting on Ottawa’s unique position as a hub for talent and innovation, Matute highlights the city’s transformation following the decline of Nortel. “A lot of [Nortel’s former employees] didn’t leave the city. They had the talent. They just created all of these companies.”

Cyphercor was born in 2011 out of a recognition of the gaps in the cybersecurity landscape.

“The vision was that we always felt that there was something missing when it came to authentication,” he explained. This vision took shape in Ottawa, driven by the idea of making multi factor authentication accessible and seamless for all organizations.

Cyphercor’ is currently working on a government challenge from Canada’s Department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development. In March, ISED put out a challenge for digitization and cybersecurity.

“We were like, ‘Woohoo!’,” Matute said, and explained. “The previous challenges were quantum computing or aerospace mapping. We’re obviously working in cyberspace.”

“The innovation we want to submit is something where we can add the same MFA token anywhere. So regardless if you’re logging into a website or your machine or to some legacy or main type application, you can use that same token anywhere,” he said.

“Then what we want to do is take that and commercialize it for all organizations, not just for the big multinationals and governments. But for any organization, we have organizations as small as 15 employees. SMEs are really a good niche for us. We want to make that innovation for them.”

Written by Melanie Coulson

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