Cyber security prospectors rush in to beat digital pirates

David Williams, chairman of the Aim tiddler Shearwater that was Aurum Mining, firmly believes “there’s gold in them thar hills”. But he does not mean in the crags and crevices of Spain, where Aurum used to prospect for gold and tungsten. Nor even the hills of Dahlonega, Georgia, which Mark Twain’s catchphrase supposedly referred to in 1849.

Mr Williams thinks his next millions will be made in cyber security.

That is why two years ago Mr Williams — who made a name building up Breedon, the £1.4bn quarry business — began selling off the mining assets and reshaping lossmaking Aurum Mining into an acquisitive cyber security group.

He brought in a team of security specialists on the board and bought three companies involved in data protection, services and software. And last week the group, although still lossmaking, announced it had increased revenues from zero to £6m. It is small beginnings but Mr Williams’ timing is good. The results came a day after Dixons Carphone revealed it had underestimated the hack reported in June. It now seems data from 10m customer records and nearly 6m credit card details were accessed last year — before the EU brought in its demanding new GDPR regime. It is possibly the biggest attack on a British company, surpassed only by the WannaCry strike on the NHS and the details of 26m patients. Dixons now talks of tripling its spending on cyber security.

That is why Mr Williams can talk of gold in them thar hills.

Source: Financial Times

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