REMOTE working and spikes in cyber crime related to Covid-19 have helped to fuel record revenues in Scotland for one of the world’s biggest cyber security specialists.

Check Point Software Technologies, which is based in Israel and California, recruited its first staff in Scotland in 2017 and said it had since grown revenues by more than 1,300 per cent.

In December 2019, the company promoted Roddy Maccallum, one of its first Scottish recruits, to country manager for Scotland. Check Point is listed on America’s Nasdaq stock exchange and reported global third quarter revenues of more than $500 million last month. It employs more than 5,000 people across more than 75 offices worldwide.

“Our revenues for Scotland in 2020 are larger than in 2017, 2018, or 2019 and there are still two months of the year left to go,” said Mr Maccallum, who is based in Glasgow. “A number of factors are driving that. Our team have put in a lot of work and effort over the last few years building relationships with our clients. But obviously Covid is absolutely driving cyber threats at the moment.”

Covid-19 related phishing and malware – malicious software – attacks climbed from less than 5,000 a week to more than 200,000 a week between February and April this year, according to a Check Point report in July. The UK government’s National Cyber Security Centre, part of communications intelligence agency GCHQ, has also warned that more than a quarter of UK cyber incidents in the past year involved criminals and hostile states exploiting the coronavirus pandemic. Phishing involves criminals posing as legitimate businesses to steal data like bank details.

Mr Maccallum said Check Point had more than 100 customers in Scotland, including large clients in financial services, telecoms, utilities, government, healthcare and education.

“Since lockdown, one of the biggest areas of growth has been organisations increasing their focus on securing remote access services and devices such as laptops, mobile phones and subscription applications like Office 365,” he said.

Before lockdown, Check Point had been about to open its first office in Glasgow, but this was now under review, Mr Maccallum said.

“We’ll need to reassess whether it’s possible or even relevant nowadays to open an office, given that some larger organisations like Facebook and Google are enforcing work from home forever,” he added.

The company’s existing seven staff have always been home-based. Mr Maccallum said he was looking to recruit more roles next year.

“I expect to have open roles for both sales and technical staff in January,” he said. “Check Point have recruited every single year since 2017 and I don't anticipate 2021 being any different. The plans in Scotland are aggressive. The growth we've had over the last few years since opening up an office here has been absolutely huge.”

Mr Maccallum said the company was collaborating with the Scottish Government on an incident response and threat intelligence initiative that would involve Scotland’s wider cyber cluster and would be launched in the coming weeks.

“Scotland is in a really strong position when it comes to cyber,” he added. “There's some phenomenal cyber talent in Scotland. Edinburgh is one of the top three cyber hubs across the whole of the UK.”

There had been a 300% increase in the number of cyber firms in Scotland over the last couple of years, Mr Maccallum said, and the industry was now a real “career choice” for young people.

Check Point runs a 'Secure Academy' project globally that allows students to train on its technology. Mr Maccallum said he was in discussion with education providers and organisations such as skills agency Skills Development Scotland about integrating this into the Scottish curriculum.

There were more than 2,000 unfilled cyber jobs in Scotland last year, Mr Maccallum added.

Check Point's chief executive Gil Shwed, who co-founded the company in 1993, is credited with creating the world's first firewall. The company holds more than 70 US patents and others worldwide.