Interview with Roksit CEO Hakan Uzun
CyberMag: Firstly, what would you like to say about the present and future of the IT sector in the world and in Turkey?
Hakan Uzun: The IT sector is developing rapidly in the world and in Turkey with the impact of the pandemic. The sector size was 153 billion TL in 2019 and employed 143 thousand people. There was a rapid rise with the pandemic. Because the products of the IT sector have become a great need in every aspect of life, from health to education, from working life to e-commerce. According to the report of the Turkish Statistical Institute, the IT sector grew by 18% in the first quarter of 2021, while the software and hardware sector grew by 55% in the same period. According to the "Information and Communication Technologies Sector 2020 Market Data and Trends" Report published by the sector, the sector reached a volume of 189 billion TL in TL terms. The employment of the sector, which realised its exports as 10 billion 520 million TL, increased to 158 thousand people. In addition, while the global information and communication market size decreased by 2.2 percent to 3.8 trillion dollars in 2020, the information technologies market size decreased by 0.2 percent and the communication technologies market size decreased by 4.0 percent.
In the light of all these, it is necessary to say that the future of the IT sector in Turkey is quite bright. This is because we have an R&D infrastructure that creates unicorns, produces its own technology and succeeds in exporting it. Today, the world is talking about metaverse, blockchain and cryptocurrencies. In the coming days, this digitalisation will gain even more momentum and the world will evolve towards a different point. We will need more information and more secure data. The importance of cyber security will increase even more, e-shopping will increase, online stores will replace physical areas, and informatics will be one of the most important issues in a world evolving into a completely different economic environment.
CyberMag: When the ratio of R&D expenditures to GDP from 2004 to 2022 is analysed, it seems that there has been a significant increase. Considering the R&D and innovation approaches and policies in Turkey, what are the arrangements made in this regard? Do you find R&D support and incentives sufficient? What do you think needs to be done?
Hakan Uzun: As everyone knows, you can sell iron weighing 1 kg for 10 cents, but if you turn it into a surgical scalpel with a length of 1 nanometre, you can market it for 10,000 dollars. What you need for this is R&D. Turkey has emphasised R&D since 2004 in line with its development plans. Informatics was one of the most supported sectors. Today, state institutions such as TÜBİTAK, KOSGEB, Development Agencies and the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology provide monetary grants at various rates and amounts for R&D studies. Since it is possible to receive support and grants from the government for R&D when you develop specific projects, there has been rapid development in this field since 2004. Grants of up to 60 per cent can be obtained for the product to be R&D. In my opinion, this is a substantial rate. On the other hand, R&D centres are also entitled to tax reductions and exemptions. On the one hand, 100 per cent reduction of the corporate tax base, on the other hand, if a certain number of R&D personnel are employed, new grants and supports are provided in addition to the reduction. In addition, VAT, SSI and Income Tax exemptions are also made for R&D activities. Various exemptions and discounts, which are currently valid until 2024, are currently vital for companies. According to TurkStat's report on R&D activities in Turkey, gross domestic R&D expenditure increased by 9 billion 3 million TL in 2020 compared to the previous year, reaching 54 billion 957 million TL. 2021 R&D figures have not been announced, but it is expected to exceed 60 billion TL.
Many unicorns can come out of Turkey. For this, R&D constitutes an indispensable way of working. As Roksit, we have a very advanced R&D team. If this were not the case, we would not be able to take place with many important companies of the world with our special solutions on DNS security. Therefore, R&D activities in the IT sector should continue to increase. The important thing is to find trained personnel to work in R&D as well as financial resources. Today, there are 260 thousand employees in the IT sector, of which nearly 65 thousand undertake various tasks as R&D employees. Further increase in employment with support and grants will benefit Turkey in every sense.
CyberMag: 2021 was an exciting year for the technology industry. Investment in artificial intelligence has skyrocketed. According to Forbes, 80 percent of businesses have invested until this year, while 30 per cent plan to expand their AI investments in the next 3 years. In the light of this information, can we say that 2022 will be the year of artificial intelligence and artificial intelligence robots?
Hakan Uzun: Artificial intelligence is functionally present in our lives today in many areas from e-commerce to digital marketing, from healthcare to cloud. In a way, brands that use artificial intelligence more effectively, efficiently and powerfully are a few steps ahead of their competitors in the digitalisation race. By 2030, the artificial intelligence ecosystem is expected to increase to $ 15.7 trillion in the world. The biggest share in the field of artificial intelligence belongs to China and the USA. They manage a budget of approximately 10 trillion dollars. Today, it is not only important to produce data, but also to store and process it. At this point, the importance of artificial intelligence emerges once again. It should not be forgotten that digitalisation recorded its 10-year phase, which was calculated in 2019, in 2020 and 2021. Because the pandemic process made it faster and more compulsory. In our country, 145 companies and organisations established the Turkey Artificial Intelligence Initiative. There is an intensive work on Image Processing, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Chatbot and Dialogue Artificial Intelligence, Prediction and Data Analytics, Optimisation, Autonomous Vehicles, RPA, Smart Platforms, Search Engine and Search Assistant. From applications to systems compatible with artificial intelligence-based mobile phones and computers, work on many items continues at full speed. Therefore, it is necessary to say that 2022 will be the year of artificial intelligence. There are 218 academics working in the field of artificial intelligence in Turkey, and the number will increase to 5 thousand by 2025. The number of graduates in this field will increase to 10 thousand. These figures show that Turkey will witness many artificial intelligence-oriented and artificial intelligence-based studies in the near future.
CyberMag: The concept of IoT (Internet of Things), which has emerged with the increasing use of the internet in recent years, and the increase in the number of devices connected to the internet; shows the importance of information security as another vital issue and the need to develop local and national solutions on behalf of our country. In the light of this information, what do you think about the state of the Cyber Security Sector in Turkey?
Hakan Uzun: As technology advances, threats in the field of cyber security increase at the same rate. This is because cyber attackers use the latest technology. In order to resist them, you need to be at the cutting edge of technology. Today, smart televisions are hacked and credit card information is captured, these devices are turned into listening devices and audio recordings are made from the environment. Or images are recorded from the cameras of mobile phones and computers. Today, hackers have started to operate especially in the field of health. In the first days of Covid-19, hospitals and healthcare organisations were working overtime, and there was a big explosion in Turkey and the world, especially in terms of ransom attacks in this field. In addition, cyber-attacks can now be organised on many products, from a person's pacemaker to a respirator with internet connection at home. There have even been cyber-attackers who remotely give patients too much or too little medicine. Although the Internet of Things provides many benefits, data security and their processing are among the most important issues. As the cyber security sector, we are in an intense effort. Last year, there were more than 62 million cyber attacks in the world. The number of cyber attacks in Turkey in 2021 exceeded 1 million 700 thousand. The figures show that cyber attacks are happening at any moment and pose a great danger. Therefore, our sector needs to continue its development and growth.
CyberMag: What is the importance of cyber security in terms of national security?
Hakan Uzun: Cyber security is not only a problem for e-commerce companies, large conglomerates participating in tenders or financial institutions with millions of credit card and account information. Today, cyber wars are being fought as much as conventional wars. And most of them are not even known to the public. Cyber-attacks are carried out at many critical points, from a country's hydroelectric power plants to defence systems, from the data banks of hospitals to telecommunications, and these attacks continue to increase. Among the issues we have mentioned, the defence industry has a great weight, especially for national security. If the defence industry of a country is strong, it is possible for these companies to store their information safely, to prevent their new products from leaking to rival companies and to prevent them from being captured by hostile states. Therefore, all kinds of data in the defence industry must be carefully protected. In addition, it is important to ensure that existing protection and defence systems are not turned into an attack weapon by any external intervention. At this point, everything must be under your control, not attacked by hackers or intervened instantly. A country's land, air and sea defence, local law enforcement and intelligence agency constitute its most important strategic points. If you add government correspondence and meetings to this, you can see how the field of cyber security has expanded at the point of national security. It is in the hands of the cyber security sector to be on the alert 24/7 with the appropriate personnel and service understanding to eliminate threats not only when there is an attack against these threats that develop as technology advances, but also before it happens, and to do what is necessary. The more trained personnel you have, the more chances you have to successfully resist these attacks.
CyberMag: According to our research, there is an increase in crimes committed through the Internet. Our people are also very keen on open information environments. What do you attribute this situation to and what are your suggestions for necessary solutions?
Hakan Uzun: Crimes committed in this way, such as cyber-attacks, threats and insults, are on the rise today. Because life is becoming digitised. In Turkey, users giving their personal data such as address, identity, phone number, etc. on social media and to companies and organisations that are requested from them but are not legally obliged to do so creates a major cyber security gap. The number of internet users in Turkey has reached 60 million. We play games, watch films or work on the internet for more than 8 hours a day. During this time, we knowingly and unknowingly share a lot of personal data that will put us in a difficult situation. First of all, people should secure their social media accounts, and for this, they should prefer passwords that cannot be easily cracked with upper and lower case letters, numbers and special signs. Then, they should not share all family information from a single source and publicly. They should definitely use cyber security programmes for their computers and phones. They should take into account the cyber security recommendations of experts. They should not open content that comes from unfamiliar addresses and has video plug-ins.
CyberMag: As Roksit, do you carry out corporate studies in the field of cyber security? Are the information and documents of state institutions sufficiently protected? Or are you looking for a public security solution?
Hakan Uzun: As Roksit, we are working with more than 120 organisations in Turkey, including state institutions. We operate meticulously to ensure that these very important and vital organisations are free from all kinds of cyber threats, and we do this with our know-how, experience and special products. There have always been cyber threats against state-owned organisations both in our country and in the world, and tomorrow's threats will not be less than today's. We act with this awareness. We know that there is a strict protection shield both by the state's own teams and by service procurement units such as us, and we strive to take this to a higher level every day.
CyberMag: Could you tell us a little bit about the work done by Roksit Turkey? What are you doing to protect our critical infrastructures and what do you aim for in these studies?
Hakan Uzun: Today, we have a working team of 22 people who develop special solutions and products. As Roksit, which has been in the sector for 7 years, we produce DNS-based security solutions. With cloud-based and / or on-premises protection, we enable companies to securely connect to the internet inside and outside the network. With DNS visibility, we detect malicious traffic on the company's network and reveal which endpoint devices this traffic originates from. We reveal the details of how much protection the company's security solutions provide and close this gap with our solutions.
We can easily say that our domain-based cyber threat intelligence service, which we support with artificial intelligence technologies, is currently the most advanced solution in this field compared to its international competitors in the world.
CyberMag: It is estimated that it takes 100 to 200 days to detect a cyber attack. What are the measures that should be taken to minimise the detection time, minimise the damage arising from attacks, prevent risks and protect customers?
Hakan Uzun: Every cyber threat is unique in terms of the method it uses, the person who uses it and the time. The same threat method can be directed by more than one person in many different ways. At this point, what needs to be done is to create the security infrastructure of your company with a 360-degree cyber security approach. Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide this security with a single solution. For this reason, it is of great importance to use security solutions that communicate with each other and work in different protocols and layers together. As Roksit, offering our cyber security solutions at the DNS layer, which is the most basic network layer of companies, is vital for our customers in terms of meeting and detecting attacks at the first level.
In addition, it is critical to provide pinpoint cyber security threat intelligence to SoC teams, which is very important for companies to detect and react to cyber security attacks. At this point, transferring DNS traffic to SIEM solutions and SOC teams with filtered DNS traffic, enriched content information, and revealing the harmful ones of this traffic is one of the serious differences that distinguish us from other cyber security solutions.
CyberMag: You have many products and solutions that you have developed in the field of next generation endpoint security and cloud security. Could you mention a few solutions that you consider important?
Hakan Uzun: One of the main components of our solutions is the domain-based cyber threat intelligence service we call Cyber X-Ray. We have developed and continue to develop this solution using the latest technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data, etc. We are one step ahead of our international competitors operating in this field. There is no other cyber security company that keeps its intelligence service up to date and classifies it with high accuracy by scanning the entire world internet 24/7 every day. We utilise this unique intelligence service while ensuring security at the DNS layer.
CyberMag: You can't stop threats you can't see. Can you also talk about the solution you have created to detect and stop the most advanced threats by making them visible quickly? Are you getting positive feedback from users?
Hakan Uzun: As I mentioned, the DNS layer is the most basic layer of companies' networks. Detecting and making attacks visible on the DNS base is a vitally important and prioritised cyber security approach.
As Roksit, we are the only company in the world with a solution that analyses DNS traffic without touching any infrastructure or topology of companies, makes this traffic visible, makes this traffic readable and enriches it, and reveals the malicious traffic here. This solution also has another unique feature that makes it visible from which endpoint device and which process this malicious traffic originates. We can do this without installing an agent on any device in the network.
We add extra added value to this solution with our SIEM and EDR integration solutions.
All our customers using this solution are very satisfied and we receive very positive feedback.
CyberMag: In 2021, more than 50% of organisations faced a public audit following a security breach. Operations and financial systems were the hardest hit, followed by brand reputation and customer trust. For organisations that have experienced an attack, the impact has been significant:
- Twenty-two per cent of breached organisations lost customers. In addition to this 40 percent of them lost more than 20 per cent of their customer base.
-Twenty-nine percent of these organisations lost more than 20 percent of their revenue.
Therefore, can we say that the attacks that organisations are exposed to cause very serious reputational damage? Do you think awareness training and awareness-raising activities are sufficient as a solution?
Hakan Uzun: Companies that are attacked by cyber-attacks and lose their customers' financial and address information to hackers, of course, suffer a great loss of reputation. Nowadays, companies can recover their lost money in a short period of time, but they cannot recover their reputation at the same speed. For this reason, efforts to avoid being attacked or to overcome it with minimal damage should be implemented quickly. In addition to the service received from companies like us, it is very important to provide in-house training and to make the personnel aware of cyber security. Today, many companies organise cyber security training through professionals and try to inform their employees. Although the pandemic has had a slightly negative impact on this, I think that the employees will be more conscious and experienced in this regard with the compensation of the lost time in the future.
CyberMag: Can you evaluate the policies followed by Turkey in order to develop new technologies? What kind of studies and policies are followed in developed countries in order to facilitate innovation and pave the way for new technologies?
Hakan Uzun: As we have mentioned before, Turkey provides important incentives and grants for R&D in new technologies. In addition to this, there are various bureaucratic and fast procedures for the establishment and operation of technology companies provided by the Ministry of Industry and Technology. In terms of investment, Turkey is divided into 6 regions and different incentives are provided for all of them. In addition to this, there are also various space allocations and different tax exemptions. Again, many investment and production grant incentives for technoparks and techno cities continue to be provided. The trend towards technology in the world continues at a great pace. It is possible to say that technology companies in countries such as Silicon Valley in the USA, China, Germany, France, the UK and Japan receive significant support. Of course, these are diversified according to the value they add to countries and their export potential. Sometimes hundreds of thousands, sometimes billions of dollars in various amounts of state aid can be realised. Turkey is also taking important steps towards its export targets and becoming a technology base, and we are confident that this path will be taken in a short time with the cooperation of both the state and the private sector.
CyberMag: CyberMag aims to raise awareness and inform people as Turkey's first printed and electronic magazine focused on the risks in the cyber world and cyber security. What are your thoughts about CyberMag, which set out with this purpose and has been continuing its publication life for more than 5 years?
Hakan Uzun: CyberMag not only fills a big gap in this field, but also undertakes an important function in the field of journalism by providing us with special news about our sector. I wish them continued success.
Roksit, which continues to work with the vision of becoming Turkey's first cyber security unicorn, is switching to a new corporate identity that will accelerate its rapid growth with its products used in 74 different countries today.