Shops are open, restaurants and bars are opening, the sun is shining, albeit sporadically, and life is slowly returning to normal.
There is a long way to go, however – and plenty of unanswered questions. What will summer holidays look like this year? How will sports events and music festivals combine crowds, atmosphere and safety? When will clubs, theatres and cinemas be able to operate at anything like capacity?
Covid passports might provide some of the answers. Offering proof that someone has been vaccinated, freshly tested or recently recovered from coronavirus, these digital certificates are being actively explored by the UK Government, by countries around the world and by many businesses, large and small.
Safeguarding health: Crossword Cybersecurity is working to make sure that Covid certificates are authentic
But the documentation needs to be secure and it has to be genuine. Fraudsters are already at work, offering fake certificates online, for those who know where to look. And that’s before any such certificates have been introduced.
The stakes are clearly high. Fakes could allow Covid-19 to spread like wildfire at big events, on planes or in any crowded space.
Crossword Cybersecurity, a small AIM company, with top IT credentials, is working with one of the world’s leading authorities on the internet to make sure that Covid certificates are authentic and safe.
Crossword shares are £3.42 and should increase in value as the certificate scheme is rolled out and the firm moves forward with a range of other cyber initiatives.
The business is run by Tom Ilube, a tech entrepreneur and rugby enthusiast, who was recently appointed chair of the RFU.
Ilube has teamed up with Professor David Chadwick, who helped to design core elements of the web, including gold standard verifiable credentials, which ensure that digital certificates are genuine, while protecting the privacy of users.
Chadwick’s company Verifiable Credentials is working with Crossword on the creation of Covid certificates and trials are already under way with East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest hospital trusts in the country, as well as a number of entertainment venues.
The project could prove to be a major source of business for Crossword here and overseas but the company has several other strings to its bow.
Founded by Ilube in 2014, the group advises businesses and government bodies on how best to guard against cyberattacks. At the same time, Ilube and his team seek out promising cybersecurity research at universities and help to commercialise it.
Crossword subsidiary Rizikon exemplifies the approach. Spun out of City University in London, Rizikon allows businesses to assess whether they are vulnerable to cyberattacks via their supply chain.
This is one of the fastest-growing areas of cybercrime, where criminals hack into a single firm and use that to plant malware into all the companies that firm supplies. The method has caused mayhem around the world but Rizikon offers its customers a way to limit their risk and take-up has been enthusiastic.
Users include food manufacturers, financial services providers, schools, local authorities, even parts of the nuclear energy industry.
Rizikon has also won two new contracts from government-backed body, IASME, which offers top-ofthe-range cybersecurity certification to businesses.
Rizikon is making headway and so is the rest of the Crossword group. Results for 2020, released last week, showed a 25 per cent increase in revenues to £1.6million. Ilube expects revenues to grow by at least 50 per cent this year.
The firm recently raised money on the stock market to accelerate growth. An acquisition is expected shortly and Ilube plans to open an office in Oman, where demand for UK tech services is high.
Cybersecurity giant Darktrace floated on the stock market last Friday with a value of £1.7billion and the shares soared 40 per cent as soon as they listed. Crossword is a minnow right now, but Darktrace highlights the potential for all things cyber.
Crossword’s board provides further reassurance, chaired by Sir Richard Dearlove, who spent more than 30 years at MI6, including five years heading the secret intelligent service.
Midas verdict: At last week’s results, Crossword announced a ten-for-one share split so investors will be offered ten shares worth about 34p each for every share held. The move should give Crossword a short-term lift on the stock market and the long-term outlook is promising too. Crossword is a well-run business operating in several fast-growing areas of the cyber market. Buy.
Traded on: AIM Ticker: CCS Contact: crosswordcybersecurity.com or 020 3953 8460
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