Tailor-made cyber security solutions

By designing and implementing security operations centres, Sandton-based Take Note Information Technologies (Take Note IT) seeks to protect its clients’ assets and to provide custom-designed end-to-end solutions to meet every customer’s specific needs.

The company’s MD and founder, serial entrepreneur Mamela Luthuli, started Take Note IT (a provider of cyber security and early warning detection systems) in 2007 when she realised that the solutions available on the market at that time were not very proactive.

Today the company employs 65 people and has become a force to be reckoned with in the IT space in South Africa. In an exclusive interview with BBQ Magazine, Mrs Luthuli, speaks passionately about her successful company — and about transformation in her industry.

What exactly is Take Note IT and what does the company do?

Take Note IT is a level one BBBEE company. We are 100% black female-owned. We provide cyber security consulting services, security operations centers (logging, monitoring, analysis and respond), penetration testing services, early warning systems to protect digital and physical assets from malicious actors, a cyber user awareness programme and training, and a security advisory service.

Can you please share with us the history of Take Note IT?

After realising that all the solutions available on the market at that time were not very proactive, we started doing research to see if we would be able to provide proactive solutions to our clients in a way that would not cost them unnecessary money. We specifically looked for solutions that were more proactive in hunting the malice in the environment, making sure that they were blocked and protected before the incident happened. We took this same methodology over to our early warning technologies to ensure that it would always be proactive. We integrated many different technologies into one platform to deter and stop the vandalism before it had happened. We found very few companies that had this kind of strategy. For us, there was no point in having security that would react and investigate after the incident had already taken place. We needed a system that would immediately stop it before it had happened. Using that module, we were able to save money for our clients.

You have experience in both the public and private sectors. How does your business benefit from this?

Operating in both the private and public sector has enhanced our experience in both sectors and thereby allows us to cross-pollinate our lessons learnt in one industry and then use them in a different sector.

You are exceptionally passionate about mentoring young people and creating opportunities for them. Why is it important for leaders in IT to take on this approach?

The country has a serious skills shortage in IT and high rates of unemployment. Mentoring young people in our field is critical to close this gap.

What are you currently doing in terms of youth transformation in your space?

One of the key strategies in our transformation is providing skills to youth in previously disadvantaged communities. We are championing Take Note IT Cyber Security Excellence by training youth with no work experience straight from schools, colleges and universities and we are equipping them with the skills required for work opportunities within Take Note IT and its associated companies internationally. This sets them up to be employed in the cyber security space where there is a manpower shortage, currently with around 2 million vacancies worldwide.

You have championed several efforts of collaboration in the ICT sector with among others Vodacom, Dimension Data, Huawei and Prasa. What was the biggest lessons learnt and how have you incorporated this in your business?

The biggest lesson that we have learnt is that there is a lack of small to medium business enterprises that can provide niche security services. This is the reason why we have introduced our cyber security services.

Which sectors does your company provide services to?

We offer services across industries such as insurance, manufacturing, retail, telecom, financial services, pharmaceuticals, government, consumer services and emerging technology businesses.

What sets Take Note IT apart from its competitors?

Take Note IT is a woman-owned level 1 BEE company. We provide niche cyber security services and are the only company that runs a cyber security centre of excellence.

What is motto of the company’s leadership?

Take Note IT’s leadership strongly believes in the wellness of their employees and we believe in home-grown solutions to global challenges.

What is your vision and how can a company like Take Note IT play a vital role in transformation in South Africa in the IT space?

Our vision is to have an African footprint in our service offering across different industries. We are already making transformational inroads by focussing our training on the youth. We strongly believe that anyone can do anything, as long as they are empowered.

Do you mind sharing with us any new and or exciting happenings or developments in your company?

The latest developments in our industry is that the problem of ransomware has almost become like a pandemic and most companies are being caught off-guard. We have developed cyber and physical monitoring solutions that allows us to monitor devices that are located anywhere. Whether employees are working from home, or anywhere in the world, we have visibility. Our tools allow us to remotely remediate compromised machines from any location. I am proud of what we have done. Each time we stop ransomware from encrypting an organisation’s data, we would have saved the company from an existential threat. Additionally, we have managed to marry our cyber security solution and our physical security early warning systems.