Aliter Technologies is doing well. After the contract with NATO for 30 million, they also won a contract with a European agency

  • Press
Slovakian-Canadian Aliter Technologies operates in the field of security and deals with the segment of communication and information systems. It had a contract with NATO and now a new million contract with a European agency.

The technological IT company Aliter Technologies has Canadian roots and its services and products are used by multinational arms concerns, but also by international organizations such as the NATO.

"We were the first company in Slovakia to have a contract with NATO, and since then we have concluded more than thirty contracts with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation," Ján Grujbár, CEO of the company, revealed to Forbes. The most recent business with NATO was worth 30 million.

Thus, the CEO revealed that Aliter Technologies is not slowing down in business with international organizations, and a million contract with the European Maritime Safety Agency is also a new one.

Old habits

You are the CEO of a company focused on cybersecurity, but do you remember the days when you still underestimated the security of your devices like your smartphone? For example, a weak password?

I can certainly say that I have not always been as consistent in this regard as I probably should be. The fact is that sometimes people have a tendency to take things a bit lightly, but under the influence of the events that are happening around us, I am more careful.

Did you have a bad habit, like repeating the same password for multiple accounts?

I was re-educated from this bad habit long ago. Fortunately, it is very easy to use mobile applications that, together with the correct procedures, can largely eliminate this problem.

What should ordinary people avoid in the online space in terms of security?

We mentioned passwords. They should definitely be more complex and, as we said, should not be repeated. Today, however, passwords alone may not be enough, a good trend is to supplement them with additional authentication. It is a matter of course not to publish various sensitive information on the Internet. It is important to have secure business or family tools, and an antivirus program is an absolute minimum, even on mobile.

It is really important to know as much as possible about how the field of cyber security itself is developing, what threats are facing us, and the most vulnerable group are children and seniors. Education in this direction, at least from family members, should be a matter of course.

Investing in cyber security

According to the Central Register of Contracts, you cooperate with state institutions mainly in the field of security. Do you also supply the state with products in the cyber security segment?

We have invested a lot of effort in this area in recent years, and our entire cyber security department has also grown significantly. We have built a strong team, we managed to get quality people who are constantly learning and moving forward to be the top in their field.

Therefore, we can provide services in this segment to both private companies and government institutions.

What types of services and products do you offer them?

As part of cyber security, Aliter Technologies is able to offer a whole portfolio of services. These services include consulting services in the field of cyber security - risk management or compliance with legislation, as well as security solution delivery services according to specific customer criteria.

Such supplies of security technologies can include, for example, the security of systems and networks or the implementation of advanced security monitoring tools.

A significant part of our portfolio also includes various more advanced services, for example penetration tests or detailed analysis of various attacks and intrusions. Of course, we can provide these services across the entire life cycle of the project - that is, from the planning and analysis phase through deployments to service support itself.

War in Ukraine

How has the issue of cyber security changed after the outbreak of war in Ukraine?

Certainly there was a certain increase in the whole segment, but we are already returning to our old ways. What I must not forget, however, was mainly self-awareness.

Self-awareness of whom?

For example, companies that have recently realized that there really is a certain threat. Before, they were more flagrant. There is still a relatively large number of companies that only start dealing with cyber security when something happens.

In some way, there is a lack of continuous and gradual investment in this area and training of employees. In short, prevention is lacking.

Does it also happen at state institutions?

I think things have changed a bit in this area recently.

Business with state institutions

We know from the media that there have been several hacker attacks within state institutions. Did Aliter Technologies cooperate with the institutions in any way in this regard?

We are in a position to provide our services not only to the private sector but also to the government sector.

I understand that these are sensitive topics and you can't get too specific. But if I were a representative of a state institution, for example a ministry, which is facing hacker attacks, what advice or services could Aliter Technologies provide me?

First of all, we would have to answer the question of whether the institution itself is under hacker attack "right now". If so, in that case we at Aliter Technologies could participate with our know-how in the "so-called" process of solving a cyber incident. We would be able to be helpful in managing the incident itself and provide "man power" in the technical solution itself, or in subsequent analysis, either RCA or forensic.

However, if it is more of a systematic problem in which hacker attacks often occur, then it would be necessary to analyze the environment itself. In such an analysis process, it would be necessary to go through the technological and system settings, to go through the necessary cyber security processes and most importantly, often forgotten, to look at how cyber security itself is perceived among the "stakeholders" in the company.

Based on this analysis, we would then be able to provide specific recommendations where it would be necessary to invest. It often happens that the necessary investments are not on the side of the missing technologies.

Advanced cyber security technologies also need to be properly managed – which puts pressure on qualified people. In the overwhelming majority, however, we encounter a situation where the technologies are delivered, they just need to be set up so that they are fully functional and able to face the given threat.

The rise of hybrid threats

Hybrid threats are a big topic and are often associated with localization from Russia. How do you perceive similar attacks linked to the Russian Federation?

Hybrid threats have been present here since before the conflict in Ukraine. The fact is that the hybrid offensive or threat has been increasing for the last two or three years. Basically, it is becoming a new standard.

Have you noticed a similar risk of hybrid attacks within your company?

Certainly yes. Already at the beginning of the conflict, we addressed our certain observations internally within the company, but also to clients.

Does the exchange of government suits affect trade with the state in any way? Do you feel it within the business?

Sometimes we perceive that during similar exchanges, some things stretch out in time. Simply, some processes are sometimes interrupted in this way and there is a certain discontinuity. But then it continues.

In the time that I have been here, I do not register that there has been any significant slowdown or stoppage of the order due to the change of governments. It is probably also related to the fact that we operate in a sector that is continuous and deals with contracts that are not for one year, but rather for a longer period.

What are the biggest difference between doing business with the state and the private sector?

Each business case has its own specifics, qualitative and quantitative indicators, milestones and goals. We approach each business competition individually, regardless of the sector from which our potential customer comes.

The only significant difference is the impact of the Public Procurement Act, which fundamentally determines the rules for the contracting authority. The most common parameter when evaluating bids according to the Slovak Public Procurement Act is the price, which cannot always reflect the real added value of the solution. In normal business dealings in the private sector, in addition to the price, a qualitative criterion is also evaluated.

Shop for 30 million

Aliter Technologies cooperates with the North Atlantic Alliance. How did business with NATO develop?

We were the first company in Slovakia to have a contract with NATO, and since then we have concluded more than thirty contracts with the North Atlantic Alliance. The last one was in the amount of 30 million for the supply of infrastructure, technologies, systems and services for data centers within the member states of the North Atlantic Alliance.

NATO judges suppliers very strictly through its quarterly evaluations. In these evaluations, we are achieving 100 percent in recent periods.

What do such evaluations look like?

The customer primarily assesses whether the order is delivered on time and in the required quality, whether supporting activities are delivered to the customer in the required quality. Of course, there are many other criteria.

If we do not meet the indicators for two months in a row, the contract will automatically be terminated. However, our ratings are above average.

You mentioned the contract with NATO worth 30 million. Was it the last contract with the North Atlantic Alliance?

The aforementioned contract within NATO was the last multi-million contract, but we have already signed several others.

Contracts with NATO

You have already hinted at it, but what does contract performance look like from a procedural point of view?

The contract is fulfilled on the basis of separate orders and they are subsequently implemented. Of course, our goal is to offer something extra to every customer. In this process, we therefore designed, developed and implemented a portal for the automation of administrative tasks for NATO, then the implementation of services is carried out through our specialists in the data centers of individual NATO member countries.

Is the contract payment ongoing?

Due to the nature of the contract, it is delivered partly on the basis of orders, and these are invoiced to the customer after their delivery and acceptance.

As a supplier, what do you have to pay attention to logistically with such a large contract?

Experience is a matter of course. Since this is not our first large-scale delivery, we can anticipate most of the risks that may arise.

What are the risks, for example?

There are countless of them, whether it is possible changes in technology, limitation of supplies by manufacturers, exchange rate risks, logistical problems, human resources and the like. When implementing services, it is necessary that all our employees have NATO secret clearances. At the same time, you must prepare to be able to respond to countless requests from individual NATO member countries at one time and be able to ensure subsequent implementation.

How has the conflict in Ukraine affected trade with NATO?

Of course, a certain part of our business was affected by this. Activities that were planned for a longer period had to be accelerated. These were, for example, projects connected with the modernization of the Slovak army.

Thus, the conflict in Ukraine mainly brought acceleration of some processes. In other parts of our business, however, I do not feel any impact or influence of this conflict.

A million contract with a European agency

In addition to the aforementioned business with NATO, do you have another important contract in your portfolio recently?

Of course, we have several large contracts in progress. The most important projects include, for example, ensuring the operation of data centers in Slovakia and abroad, the supply of our products intended for communication in new vehicles intended for the Slovak army, as well as a multi-million contract for the European Maritime Safety Agency (the EMSA agency serves the maritime interests of the EU, editor's note. ).

What are the goods and services in the last-named contract?

The subject of delivery is security and network infrastructure, including related services, which will be ordered gradually.

After the decline, growth

In 2021, Aliter Technologies saw both profits and sales decline. What caused it?

The 2021 results were affected by market events. It was the period of the chip crisis, the delivery dates of these components were stretched, which also had an impact on the production of our devices, where deliveries shifted in time.

In 2022, your turnover grew to 48.6 million euros. On the other hand, to what do you owe the increase in numbers?

In 2022, we increased our turnover on the one hand precisely because of the shift in deliveries from 2021, and the second factor was the increased interest in the supply of our products and services.

According to public registers, your numbers have also increased in 2023. How do you rate this increase?

Yes, 2023 was a period of growth for our company. We managed to complete large orders and start the implementation of new projects. It is not possible to publish details due to sensitive data in the given projects.

We optimized internal production processes, started implementing projects for the world's largest companies in the defense sector, and strengthened our position abroad. We rank the year 2023 among the most demanding, but also among the most interesting periods of our company.

We are in the middle of 2024, do you have any idea what the economic results of this year will look like?

As you say, we are still halfway through the year. However, with regard to our strategy, we said to ourselves that this is the year in which we want to devote ourselves to stabilizing and fine-tuning processes, and at the same time, the long-term goal is to support our activities abroad. We believe that we will be able to fulfill our set goals.

SOURCE: Forbes