Martin Rehak, experienced entrepreneur and CEO of Resistance AI, has played an important role in building successful startups in the cybersecurity industry throughout his career.
One of them, Cognitive Security, was acquired by Cisco in 2013 and served as the basis for Cisco’s Cognitive Threat Analytics (CTA) team, a unit dedicated to advanced threat detection for more than 25 million users. users around the world.
In an interview with The Recursive, Rehak discusses the transformative power of artificial intelligence in cybersecurity, its potential to revolutionize how we protect sensitive information in an increasingly digital age, and more Again.
The following interview was conducted as part of The Recursive’s “State of AI in CEE” report. Download the full report with insights from over 40 experts and analysis of 900 CEE AI product companies here.
The Recursive: How has the use of AI in cybersecurity changed the business sector?
Martin Rehak: The security game is always one of escalation and AI is no exception. It’s a patient game: attackers do something then they adapt, they mirror our actions, they hide and then we hit them again. The fundamentals never change. What has changed are the deadlines. In the old financial days, fraudsters operated on time scales of days or months, you committed a few frauds a day, you were happy, you went home, then you went to another branch, you got on a plane on the other side of the country. , etc.
Now you are committing fraud: if it works, you add a simple cycle in the code that actually performs the attack. And you multiply by 1,000 within 10 seconds of the first, and what seemed like a funny loss for a company can become quite catastrophic.
How has the Resistance AI product portfolio evolved since its launch?
This has changed radically: our first idea was a complete failure and it is important to share with startups that we do not always succeed immediately. Our idea was to look for the shortcomings of AI models and basically research the vulnerability of AI models. Something that would be very popular today, but fell apart four years ago.
Our second idea was one we started at the request of a client: we started reviewing fake images and digital documents. And it became the integration security product, which now helps our customers defeat increasingly sophisticated counterfeits.
There is an emerging AI innovation ecosystem in the Czech Republic – what are its strengths and weaknesses?
I think the strengths are a very good education system with very talented and intelligent people.
The second strength is the ability to attract foreign talent despite the efforts of the Czech state to prevent everyone from coming. But we hope this will change, just not quickly enough. There is the fact that the Czech Republic is an open place, and Prague is an open place where you want to live.
The third force is that the ecosystem is shaping itself: when we launched the first AI company here in 2008, everyone thought we were crazy and there were about three startups in the whole country , and there were one or two venture capital firms. We now have more than 20 venture capital funds in the country and around 500 startups.
How would you rate the level of collaboration between AI companies and academia?
We have very good relationships with academia because we come from academia, and the current situation is such that when you leave academia, going to work for an AI startup is almost like a choice by default.
Therefore, academia has taken into account that there is a demand for students to work in startups. There is a lot of collaboration and the door is quite open. We even continue to train doctoral students in collaboration with universities, which is very good and very productive.
What do you think of the talent pool available to AI companies?
The potential is huge because many smart graduates are leaving universities and many talented people are ready to settle in Prague.
The reason some people say it’s difficult to hire staff is because they aren’t willing to train people. So as a company the culture is such that you will have to hire younger people with less experience. We don’t expect to be able to hire people from the market who know how to do AI.
What are you currently missing or would you like to see more of in AI and deep technology innovation?
First, we sell primarily to financial institutions and banks, and their willingness to adopt AI is somewhat limited by regulation. The regulator therefore lacks being firm on the objectives of regulation, while being flexible in terms of the means used to achieve the objective, with AI being one of the means of solving it.
Previously, one could have easily argued that it was impossible to analyze millions of transactions per day to detect every instance of money laundering, because it was too difficult. With AI, expectations for performance and quality should rise, and they are rising.
What do you think of the European AI law and does it change anything for the industry?
If you look at AI law, the whole law comes from the principle of precautionary regulation: someone wants to regulate AI to protect us from our fear or regulate AI to prevent something bad does not happen. But if you look at the specific clauses, how for example high risk systems were defined, you see that something is considered a high risk system based on a single anecdote or a single case somewhere in the United States or in a book mentioned by someone.
If we want to make Europe a place where innovation doesn’t happen, where innovation dies and where we are the last to adopt new technologies, then the AI law is a very good way to move quickly towards this future.
How has funding and investor support affected the overall development of resilient AI?
I think the funding situation has improved significantly in Europe and the European venture capital ecosystem is maturing very quickly. It’s not working on a U.S. scale yet, but it’s already working on a pretty good scale and giving us enough support.
In CEE, this became very evident with UiPath, and other companies followed, so the region is experiencing very dynamic growth. I think the tech scene is currently home to a lot of talent, and for many students leaving college, going into a startup becomes a career option to follow. Everything comes together: it is the talent, capital, maturity and knowledge of previous generations of founders who are paving the way and now helping to drive the ecosystem.