iiNet founder Michael Malone backs new infosec company

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iiNet founder Michael Malone backs new infosec company
Michael Malone.

Exclusive: Wants to bring Defence Force discipline to the private sector.

iiNet founder Michael Malone has invested in a new business venture, establishing an IT security service provider which aims to bring the infosec “discipline, governance and leadership” found within the Australian Defence Force to the private sector.

Malone ended 20 years at the helm of iiNet earlier in March after a three-month sabbatical during which he said it became clear it was time for him to leave the company.

At that stage Malone said he had no concrete plans for his next role. 

Fast forward to August and Malone's new business - Diamond Cyber, which is headquartered in Perth - started life as a registered company. It began operations just a few weeks ago.

Malone, as the chairman of the new business, is joined by founder of IT consultancy Ajilon Ian MacFarlane as managing director; former IT operations and project manager for the Australian Army and Defence Material Organisation Sven Ross as head of security; and former Ajilon executive Brent Kerr as head of digital and IT services. The company also last week hired a fifth employee for IT services.

“It’s kind of a fortuitous crossing over of a few different people that appeared at the right time," Malone told iTnews.

"It wasn’t something I set out to do. I met these people and they were available and I realised there was something there."

Diamond Cyber offers a range of services including application development and integration; governance, intelligence and information management; analysis, strategy and change services; as well as managed services including security monitoring and penetration testing.

Malone is an independent chairman at the company, which theoretically means his role should stop at financial investment and regular board meetings - but as a start-up if feels "more like a full-time job" at the moment. 

The business is targeting West Australian clients initially, and Malone and MacFarlane are using their personal networks to market the business. 

The company already boasts a handful of unnamed clients in government and state utilities and the mining, oil and gas sectors - specifically one large resources company, Malone said, but he declined to name any at this early stage.

Diamond Cyber is pushing for enterprise clients who want an independent assessment of their threat potential, and will offer services in what Malone sees as a growing area - the 'insider threat' and social engineering.

"In my experience, everyone thinks of the external threat and locks down their servers etc, but the real threat is actually coming from the inside," he said.

"Diamond Cyber does look at the digital security aspects like are your servers secure and up to date, but a lot of our work is also around physical access to buildings, procedures and processes, and what staff have access to various information.

"I think this will be a big area of growth in the future. We are seeing a rapid increase in volumes of data. Imagine a law firm getting penetrated and all their sensitive documents getting leaked online, these are the sorts of things companies are becoming increasingly aware of in terms of risks."

The business promises to provide clients with a “defense-in-depth” approach to infosec threats such as “hacktivists”, cyber criminals and nation-state actors.

Malone and the company are targeting staff recruits from Australia's military and defence forces in the belief that the best skills lie in that sector.

"A lot of the stuff I did at iiNet ended in me dealing with these sorts of people - we dealt with lawful intercept, trojans, malware etc, so we dealt with the government agencies that were addressing this for the government," Malone said.

"And I’ve been impressed with the capability the Australian military has in this space. It’s not visible to people in general commerce but for the military and other [similar] agencies, this is their bread and butter."

Diamond Cyber is looking to expand quickly in order to provide the scale of services large organisation will be looking for.

"We need to grow quickly to have the capability to service the clients [we want], because we can’t do that with only five staff members."

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