08 October 2021

David Lotfi CEO Evina

David Lotfi CEO Evina

What was your big career break?
In 2015, the rise of Bitcoin was all everyone was talking about. What was less apparent at first was the upsurge in cybercrime that came with Bitcoin. Before the dawn of this new digital currency, cybercriminals couldn’t easily obtain money from the crimes they committed. They had few places where to safely launder the stolen money and oftentimes their crimes could easily be traced back to their bank accounts. Via Bitcoin, cybercriminals were able to create a real business model and profession out of cyber fraud. The digital ecosystem wasn’t dealing with individual fraudsters anymore, but with organized groups of professional hackers. To confront this new reality, the good guys had to act fast and create solid cybersecurity teams that knew how to deal with this malignant generation of hackers. Bitcoin was at the same time a blessing, for the growth opportunities it offered, and a curse for the horde of fraudsters lured by the prospect of easy profits.

At the time I was providing my expertise in mobile payment to market players, and I knew that I wanted to be part of the new cybersecurity scene and join the fight against fraudsters. My wish was that these new growth opportunities created thanks to the Internet could benefit everyone and not be hindered by fraud. This is how I entered the world of cybersecurity and why I became a cybersecurity expert.

Who was your hero when you were growing up?
I loved the manga Berserk, whose main character and hero is Guts, a human. He constantly has to fight off hordes of demons who are growingly vicious. A bit like fraudsters themselves, might I say.

Guts lives in a world where there aren’t enough rules that protect citizens and where the strong prey on the weak. He refuses to accept this kind of world and the destiny that is given to him, which is why he does everything in his power to grow as strong as he can so that he can protect what matters most to him and change his destiny. I admire his tenaciousness and his strength of character to fight for what he believes in.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
That every crisis is an opportunity in disguise. I’ve found this to always be true. In particular, when a company is affected by fraud it’s not all bad news. It’s an opportunity for the affected company to grow technologically and change the way it operates, and therefore gain a competitive advantage over its competitors.

If money was no object, where would you live?
Mars! I love everything that has to do with space and technology. The conquest of space is a daring challenge for humanity. I’m a firm believer that human ingenuity can overcome all the greatest problems and challenges humankind will face, including this one. This belief is what drives me every day. Mars makes me dream big and the fact that humans will have to do the impossible to one day live on Mars is mind-blowing.

Yet our quest for Mars is also a reminder that the planet Earth on which we currently live is fragile and unique and for as long as possible, it is our duty to protect it. Just as it is my duty to protect the vulnerable mobile ecosystem from fraud.

What would you do with US$1m?
I would use the money to create a fund for mobile fraud awareness. The first step to fight fraud is to educate: educate users and companies on how to recognize and overcome fraudulent attacks.

I believe that today there aren’t enough organizations that tend to this matter, while fraud is everywhere and it’s merciless. In fact, companies often underestimate the impact fraud can have on a business, due to a lack of time, budget and/or information, which explains the growing cybersecurity debt. This debt is shared with all companies that have not addressed the security question and results in increasingly high fraud rates, complaint rates and churn rates. These are the figures that will pop out to the companies at first sight, yet the damage is much deeper for it affects the overall revenue and brand image of the company.

It’s important to be proactive in fighting against fraud. The big players are those that need to educate themselves and apply the best practices against fraud so as to set an example. By implementing the right anti-fraud solution they will secure their traffic flows and consequently secure the users.

Even if users are very careful about when they download and where they click, there will always be fraudsters who are capable of deceiving them because they are professional cybercriminals. That’s exactly why it is the responsibility of other professionals, be it payment operators, merchants or aggregators, to protect their users. And for that to take place, the first step is to understand what fraud is and how it works.

Which law would you change?
In this same realm, I would instate a global legislative system to fight cybercrime. This would mean stronger international coordination and harmonized regulations between countries to be sure that fraudsters don’t slip through the cracks.
This is extremely important as I mentioned before, we are now dealing with organized criminals that are betting on mobile payment and are investing in hackers to do the dirty work. Cybercriminals worldwide have a lot of tricks up their sleeves and they have the resources to make their wishes come true. This is why we need the best cybersecurity solutions along with foolproof laws that fight mobile fraud.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter this industry?
That entering the cybersecurity industry is a great choice. We need more ambitious people to tackle all that there is to do to make cyberspace healthy and prosperous for all the market players involved. It’s also crucial to remind them that cybersecurity is key to the prosperity of the internet, which means that each and every of their action towards fighting fraud will have an impact on all online players.
So stay motivated and determined through all the challenges that are bound to come your way by keeping the main goal in mind: to make things shift for telcos and mobile payments. Step-by-step we’ll be able to change things together.

If you had to work in a different sector, which one would you choose?
Without a doubt, I’d be a Judo teacher. I’m a black belt and I highly encourage my children to practice Judo. This art has taught me a lot about how to face life and has contributed to making me who I am today.
When you teach kids how to properly defend themselves, they naturally become more confident when encountering life’s challenges and generally become happier human beings. It’s exactly like giving players the right tools to fight fraud. They want to grow and need the right tools to do so confidently so that they can develop a strong business and concentrate on increasing their revenue, instead of constantly trying to fend off fraudsters with the wrong weapons.

What do you want to do when you retire?
I would like to provide my years of experience and knowledge in this industry to the new generation of ambitious entrepreneurs that want to create a better and safer world. Human ingenuity will be our savior in all future challenges we’ll encounter. We just need to inspire the new generation to stay focused and motivated to continuously find new solutions.