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Startups, giants and unicorns—find out more about leaders to watch in Ontario’s uniquely collaborative cybersecurity ecosystem

The global cybersecurity market size was estimated to be $162.5 billion in 2020 and is projected to register a compound annual growth of 12.5% to reach $418 billion by 2028. The market’s steady growth can be attributed to rising awareness of cybersecurity threats, increased investments in cybersecurity infrastructure and greater reliance on tech innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Ontario has assumed a dominant leadership role in cybersecurity, having developed cybersecurity hubs in Toronto, Waterloo and Ottawa, with clusters emerging throughout the province.

Ontario’s cybersecurity ecosystem is uniquely collaborative, made up of enterprise, academia and government, forming one of the most robust cybersecurity sectors in the entire world. With established firms like Herjavec Group and BlackBerry and hundreds of homegrown startups, the province is a booming cybersecurity hub—and only growing as more entrepreneurs and innovators are taking advantage of the opportunities Ontario, Canada has to offer.

Here are ten of the most exciting Ontario-based cybersecurity companies to watch in 2021:

1Password

Toronto, Ontario

Founded by friends Dave Teare and Roustem Karimov, 1Password has grown into a team of over 400 employees in over 20 countries and is helping businesses keep their private information safe. The company’s modern, accessible app became an industry-leading password manager. Their customer base boasts more than 80,000 businesses, including well-known organizations such as IBM and Slack. Recently, the company announced that it has raised $100 million in a Series B round of funding, bringing up 1Password’s valuation to $2 billion.

Arctic Wolf

Waterloo, Ontario

Arctic Wolf is a managed cybersecurity company that offers security operations as a “concierge” service. They use a mix of machine intelligence and human expertise to offer defence mechanisms for prevention, detection and response to threats. Their Hybrid AI tool even outperforms machine learning and human analysts. Since October 2020, Arctic Wolf has reached unicorn status, with a current valuation of $4.3 billion.

Cyber Mongol

Kitchener, Ontario

Cyber Mongol is a counterintelligence company that harnesses the tireless and raw automation power of machines, empowering the human teams that defend organizations worldwide against cyber threats. The team at Cyber Mongol recognized an industry-wide need to understand advanced operator tactics. Thus, they are automating the process of collecting intelligence to identify prevalent hostile behaviours. Their PANDEMIC Counter Cyber Intelligence Automation is a patent-pending, modular pipeline built to automate the laborious task of open-source intelligence collection related to identifying advanced operator tactics.

CYDEF

Ottawa, Ontario

CYDEF sprouted out of a desire to protect businesses of all sizes online. Over the past three years, the company has grown into a continuously evolving security platform that defends small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) against threats from the cybersecurity landscape. From their Ottawa and Montreal offices, CYDEF provides advanced cybersecurity threat detection, prevention, education and incident response solutions for organizations of all sizes. The company leverages decades of security operations, military and engineering experience to deliver AI and machine learning solutions that detect and respond to otherwise unrecognizable attacks from commercialized exploit toolkits and zero-day vulnerabilities. Their solutions thwart the tactics used by cybercriminals to conduct ransomware and other types of attacks. Just as importantly, their solutions are designed to be accessible and affordable by organizations of all sizes.

Digital Boundary Group

London, Ontario

Digital Boundary Group (DBG) is one of North America’s premier information technology (IT) security assurance services firms. DBG provides a suite of IT security assurance services such as external network penetration testing, web and mobile application penetration testing, physical social engineering, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system assessments and network security training to corporate and government clients.

DBG has an impressive client list that includes public and private sector organizations ranging from Canadian Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments, Canadian and U.S. Police Services and public safety organizations, SCADA system reliant energy, public utilities and infrastructure firms, to health care providers, financial service providers and a number of Canadian retailers.

In addition to their head office in London, Ontario, Digital Boundary Group also operates in Dallas, Texas.

F8th

Toronto, Ontario

F8th is an AI company on a mission to provide an alternative tool to protect companies against the latest techniques in fraud. To counter tedious and poor adoption rate of various MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) solutions, F8th Inc. has developed a transparent and continuous MFA that can be layered over any current authentication systems. Their revolutionary Behavioural Biometric Analysis as a Service (BBAaaS) allows organizations to authenticate online users and track fraudsters in real-time via hundreds of patterns of how an individual uses their mouse, keyboard, touchscreen and other inputs. Their product builds a behavioural biometric such as a fingerprint by continuously analyzing typing speed, movement speed, clicking speed, acceleration and more.

IDENTOS

Toronto, Ontario

IDENTOS designs and develops digital identity and access technology to meet modern demands of user-centricity, respect for privacy and distributed system interoperability. IDENTOS enables sectors such as health care, finance and government to quickly connect consumers, partners and data silos together safely for seamless digital experiences, platform enablement, API integrations and more.

IDENTOS has customer installs through TELSTRA in Australia, America Movil in Mexico, as well as in the Philippines through Metro Pacific Investment Corp. Most recently, IDENTOS’ access control technology is part of an innovative $5.9 million federal investment for a health access platform. Locally, IDENTOS is powering the Ontario trusted account: a seamless way for hospitals, patients and care teams to safely connect, cross-jurisdictionally—providing a doorway to a connected health system.

Magnet Forensics

Waterloo, Ontario

While working in a digital forensic unit, Jad Saliba learned that the tools police agencies had at their disposal were insufficient to investigate cyber-enabled crimes. He saw an opportunity to innovate and help investigators lawfully recover data—digital elements such as images, browser histories, location data, email addresses and instant messages. Saliba founded Magnet Forensics with Adam Belsher in 2011, helping law enforcement fight child exploitation, human trafficking and terrorism. The company also helps organizations in technology, telecommunications, health care and financial services investigate corporate fraud, intellectual property theft, employee misconduct and external threats such as ransomware, business email compromise and malware attacks. Magnet Forensics has since grown to 4,000 clients in over 90 countries while expanding offices to the U.S., U.K. and Asia. They have been recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in Canada by Canadian Business’ Growth 500 list three times.

Private AI

Toronto, Ontario

Private AI envisions a future in which private, secure and seamless data analysis enhances creative software development. Their range of cutting-edge AI models quickly and cost-effectively redact large datasets to provide privacy without the use of third-party cloud providers or new infrastructure. Their natural language processing (NLP) AI de-identifies over 30 categories of personally identifiable information (PII) in seven languages.

xahive

Ottawa, Ontario

After experiencing several cybersecurity breaches, xahive co-founders Sem Ponnambalam and David Mohajer wanted to ensure that other professionals and their value chains do not experience similar attacks. They combined their skillsets and founded xahive, a cybersecurity company that ensures professionals around the world remain safe and secure. They boast an extensive range of services—including online cybersecurity governance education and the secure communication tool xamessenger—to help organizations in Canada, America, and U.K. stay safe in the ever-expanding digital communications space.