Etisalat completes acquisition of ‘Who Secures The UAE’ multi-winner Help AG

Help AG, named by UAE CISOs as their most trusted cybersecurity reseller and consultant in Cyberviser’s own ‘Who Secures The UAE’ report, has been acquired by multinational Emirati telecoms giant Etisalat.

The German information security services, consultancy and solutions provider has been active in the Middle East for almost twenty years, with particular success in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The acquisition is expected to create “the region’s strongest cyber security unit” by adding Help AG’s expertise and customer base to Etisalat’s existing information services and cybersecurity offerings.

“Help AG has established itself as the region’s trusted security advisor. With cybersecurity playing a fundamental role in all aspects of digital business today, this acquisition fits perfectly into our strategy of being a key enabler of secure, seamless and effective digital transformation for our customers,” said Salvador Anglada, Group Chief Business Officer at Etisalat.

“We have full trust and confidence that Help AG’s leadership will effectively add value to our security portfolio and amplify the cyber security capabilities of our clients.”

The acquisition forms part of a trend seen worldwide in recent years, with cybersecurity providers – particularly those providing consulting services – being acquired by non-cybersecurity companies. Telcos in particular have shown a significant interest in the space, with Orange and AT&T being notable examples, though consultancy firms such as Accenture and others in the technology space such as Broadcom have also made a number of high-profile acquisitions.

Globally, the trend reflects the growing acceptance that cybersecurity is not just for banks and the Fortune 500 anymore. Particularly driven by tighter regulatory requirements around data privacy (notably the introduction of the GDPR and CCPA in 2018), companies which previously took their chances on security have now realised two things.

Firstly, that inadequate cybersecurity now presents a significant risk – and secondly, that for the majority of SMBs, in-house cybersecurity is prohibitively costly, requiring significant investment not just for purchasing solutions but also hiring and maintaining specialised staff.

For many of these organisations, the answer is to outsource the majority of their cybersecurity workload to a company which can provide security as a service – and for companies unfamiliar with the overwhelmingly expansive cybersecurity market and its wide range of services, if they can get that service from a trusted provider, so much the better. If it can be packaged with an existing telecoms bundle, further simplifying the vendor management process, that significantly adds to the appeal of both the security offering and the telecoms bundle.

This is doubly the case in the UAE, which research shows is particularly hard-hit by the global shortage of cybersecurity professionals – AKJ’s ‘Who Secures The UAE’ research has found year after year that the UAE’s cybersecurity teams are a fraction of the size of their European counterparts, with most companies reporting they employ only one or two cybersecurity professionals.

Many UAE organisations have been impacted by the GDPR and CCPA via their clients and partners, as well as the Bahrain Data Protection Law which came into force last year. But there’s more to come, with the UAE parliament having recently approved a draft federal law on consumer protection, which includes provisions on data security.

Etisalat may well have anticipated that if and when this new law comes into effect, it will drive a similar rush to shore up security, and a similar demand for expert guidance, as the GDPR did in Europe. The acquisition of Help AG combines its reputation as a trusted supplier of cybersecurity services and solutions with Etisalat’s own status as a trusted household name and provider of digital services – positioning the company perfectly to take advantage of the likely spike in demand for cybersecurity expertise in the next few years.

Researcher, writer, recovering medievalist. Currently particularly interested in the cybersecurity solutions market, cyber insurance/risk modelling, and IoT security.

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