“We have to see cyber security as an investment, not as a cost”  

Atos is a worldwide service provider that supports organizations in their digital transformation. Its 112,000 employees manage projects on big data, cyber security, high performance computing and the digital workplace. Benoît Rousseaux, Head of Sales Big Data & Cyber Security for Belgium and Luxemburg, explains how being a member of the Cyber Security Coalition positively affected the company’s brand awareness in Belgium. 

Atos is a global provider of managed security services but was less known in Belgium until the pandemic. How did the crisis change the situation of Atos in Belgium? 

Before I started working for Atos in 2021, I did not know that it was the worldwide leader in cyber security (according to Gartner MSSP ranking based on revenue). The company had little visibility in the sector, which is contradictory: how can a company be the biggest, yet have no awareness? It was possible due to the fact that security is seen as a question of trust and proximity. But over the last few years, cyber security has become a burning topic, and people are revising their opinions about managing security remotely.   

The pandemic, the skills shortages on the labour market, the regulations, the evolution to the cloud: in the face of all these factors, enterprises are being forced to review their security elements and how they control them. They need to rely on a strong provider to help them respond to cyber security threats. Sometimes I use the term ‘security outsourcing’; however, this term might still raise some doubt. Yet this is what we see happening in Belgium: companies no longer care where the help is coming from, as long as they are protected against attacks. 

Besides the evolution in outsourcing, what are the other trends you have noticed recently? 

Attackers and attacks became much more sophisticated during the crisis. Nowadays, you must assume that your company can and will become the target of a cyberattack. This is what we call ‘zero trust’. The traditional cyber defence methods are no longer sufficient. Previously, for security matters, many customers (outside very mature sectors such as finance) thought security meant simply protecting themselves with an anti-virus software and a firewall. But of course, it actually includes many other elements related to processes, governance, employee awareness and so on. 

As a result of the crisis, more companies now understand how complex security management is, and how many different parameters they must consider. They are more aware than they were three years ago about the advantages of calling upon a trustworthy partner, such as Atos, to help them manage their security. They no longer see cyber security investments as a cost, but rather as an added and highly necessary value. 

How is Atos evolving in order to address these changes? 

We have invested in four key areas in order to be able to guide and support our customers in strengthening their cyber security. We built a proficient cyber security workforce of over 6,000 consultants, mainly nearshore (in Romania, Poland, etc.). We created a platform with automated and orchestrated security processes across multiple lines of defence, using algorithms, AI and machine learning models. We boosted intelligence-led solutions to solve highly complex security challenges. And we invested in advanced monitoring capabilities to improve the visibility of cyber risks and the overall threat landscape. As you can see, we are constantly developing and evolving with society. 

What do you expect from the Cyber Security Coalition? How is it helping your company and the sector?  

The cyber security pie is so big that we don’t see other companies as competitors. In many cases, we must collaborate, because there is enough business for all service providers in Belgium. We should share and learn from the strengths of other experts, to develop the right and complementary skills, for example. We are not yet considered as a major company in this field in Belgium, so for us, the Cyber Security Coalition gives us more visibility as a cyber security player.  

For the sector, the Coalition is a trigger to increase awareness and to attract even more players. We see a lot of initiatives, besides those from the Coalition, from institutions such as Agoria and the Centre for Cyber Security Belgium, and even the Belgian army now has a cyber command force. All these initiatives are enhancing overall awareness, which, in the end, is good for the whole sector and for society. 

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