How a hospital ransomware attack created a global cyber alliance

The Cyber Alliance to Defend our Healthcare uses Collective Defense to protect vulnerable healthcare organizations

For all intents and purposes, healthcare organizations are functioning in warlike conditions. Not only are they committed to their duties to treat the influx of COVID-19 patients, but also must defend the physical safety of their practitioners while also, incredulously, fighting the unseen battles of cyber attacks. Waves of unscrupulous cyber actors are taking advantage of the pandemic to exploit these organizations, and their patients and staff, when they are most vulnerable. 

As CEO of C5 Capital — an investment firm dedicated to nurturing a secure digital future — I have seen firsthand the tremendous impact of Collective Defense to protect healthcare organizations and their workers against cyber attacks during the pandemic. 

Allow me to tell our story…

It started in March when my cousin called to say the hospital where she works in London was under ransomware attack. Hackers had locked down the intensive care unit to extort a massive ransom from the hospital and the British healthcare system. Until the money was paid, all hospital systems and devices — some of which belonged to employees — would remain locked, preventing patients from receiving the care they so desperately needed. 

At the same time, my cousin had been advised as a frontline healthcare worker to draft her will, given the dire outlook of the pandemic. To see her and her colleagues face a ransomware attack under such horrific circumstances was simply unbearable to watch. We soon recognized the problem spanned the entire healthcare sector, so we decided to take action. 

The Cyber Alliance to Defend Our Healthcare

In response to cyber threats amplified by COVID-19, we created the Cyber Alliance to Defend Our Healthcare, a volunteer organization of cyber professionals formed to protect healthcare workers at our hospitals and clinics as they face the escalating threat of cyber attack. As investors in, and advocates of, IronNet’s collective defense mission and capabilities of IronDome, C5 Capital has established an IronDome to protect hospitals, clinics, and healthcare workers worldwide. C5 works with ITC Secure as the service provider of the Collective Defense solution.

Collective Defense is ideal for digitally transformed hospitals, which have a plethora of connected medical devices and IT infrastructure that present a diverse and widespread attack surface. At the same time, many hospitals and clinics are underfunded and unable to defend themselves against increasingly sophisticated cyber actors. Add the potentially lethal nature of ransomware attacks when lives are on the line and the need for collective defense becomes clear.

With Collective Defense from IronDome, all data that flows anonymously through participating hospitals and clinics is analyzed in real-time to search for suspicious activity. Whenever a suspicious threat is detected, preventative action is taken across the network of hospitals, all the way down the supply chain, to block the attack before it occurs. 

This collaborative approach has completely changed the nature of cybersecurity at these hospitals. Not only does it make them stronger against attack; it also gives employees at these hospitals confidence that they can rely on the systems and the integrity of the systems — and that they are protected. 

Coming together for the health of the future

I am proud to report that more than 30 cybersecurity companies from across the US and Europe are working together in the Cyber Alliance to Defend Healthcare to stop cyber attacks in the healthcare sector. It’s both wonderful and uplifting to see people step forward to help others in a time of crisis. 

The Cyber Alliance currently defends healthcare organizations across the US, UK, and Europe, with interest building in Africa and Asia. Eventually, we intend to go global. 

With IronDome, companies like IronNet are helping to change the nature of cybersecurity and ways to protect patient data and safety. And with its continued support, and the help of the entire Cyber Alliance, we’re determined to end the scourge of cyber attacks against the healthcare sector, and build a stronger future together. 

For more on the Cyber Alliance to Defend our Healthcare and its use of Collective Defense to protect the healthcare sector, watch the on-demand webinar: Funding resilience: A VC’s view on the optimistic future of healthcare and cyber.

Digital Summit Panel- PEWlive

On Wednesday 2nd September I will be a panelist in the Technology Impact Panel at the PEWlive Europe Summit. I look forward to discussing how to achieve Technology Impact in an increasingly competitive marketplace. 

The PEWlive Europe COO/CFO Digital Summit is hosted by #PrivateEquityWire on September 2nd-3rd.

RSVP here:

#PEWliveEurope#VC#leadership#resilience#GPPrivate Equity Wire

House of Commons Defence Sub-Committee Oral Evidence Session

The Security of 5G

The Defence Sub-Committee is established by the Defence Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into topics of its choosing. Its first inquiry was on the security of 5G

The Defence Committee took oral evidence from cyber security experts Andre Pienaar and Emily Taylor on Tuesday 28th April 2020, about the risks to the UK’s 5G network and Huawei’s involvement in telecommunications infrastructure.

The session can be viewed here:

The full report can be accessed here:

Andre Pienaar speaks at the Hoover Institution on Governance In An Emerging New World: Africa

The Hoover Institution hosted a public panel discussion “Africa In An Emerging World” on Monday, January 14, 2019 from 4:00pm – 5:15pm PST.

Africa will be home to much of world’s population growth in coming decades, giving it a young, growing, and increasingly urbanized population. At the same time, it faces economic challenges and will acutely feel the effects of a changing climate. The discussion will explore what these demographic and environmental dynamics, alongside the promise of advancing technologies and new means of communications, will mean for governance and development across the continent.

Moderated by Ambassador George Moose, United States Institute of Peace and former assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

Expected Panelists:

  • Anthony Carroll, Manchester Trade
  • Ambassador Chester Crocker, Georgetown University and former assistant secretary of state for African affairs
  • Mark Giordano, Georgetown University
  • Jack Goldstone, George Mason University
  • Andre Pienaar, C5 Capital
  • Shivani Siroya, founder and CEO of

This event was open to the general public and part of a series led by George P. Shultz whose intention is to learn from our changing world, to map our governance options in response, and to help structure a variety of efforts going forward.

I want to share with you my remarks on Digital Warfare at the Milken Institute Conference, 4th December



The theme of this session was “digital warfare – defending cyber and space.”


Although the word “warfare” sits uncomfortably at a business conference, I want to commend the Milken Institute for the necessary frankness of our theme for today’s session.


We live in an age of unpeace. Whether it is the constant aggression of nation states like Russia and Iran towards the West and our allies, or China’s stated intent to become the AI superpower by 2030 built on what General Keith Alexander describes as the “largest scale theft of IP in history”, we are living with the reality of a digital world at war.


Our theme today is also accurate in its second part- linking the defence of the two crucial domains, space and cyber, together.


I am delighted to see so many members of the US Airforce (USAF) in the audience today. The USAF is the custodian of GPS, which is one of the most critical networks of our global economy, which touches every aspect of our lives, including cyber.


The US Government made GPS available to everyone in 2000 as one of the great global commons- like the internet. GPS was the first step to link the promise of the space economy with the innovation of the terrestrial digital economy. By doing so America has in a characteristically altruistic way enabled significant innovation and economic growth worldwide for everyone.


Today, however, increasingly GPS- like the internet- is being blocked or spoofed by strategic adversaries. We witnessed this vividly during NATO’s recent exercises in Scandinavia when Russian electronic warfare is reported to have disrupted GPS in Finland and Norway. As Nick Shave shared with us today the costs of a GPS outage is calculated at USD 1.5 billion per day to the UK economy exceeding all the damage to date from cyber attacks.


It is therefore no surprise that In the doctrine of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cyber is regarded as a dimension of space warfare. China sees space as the strategic high ground for cyber warfare.


Winston Churchill reminded us of another important domain when he said that the empires of the future will be empires of the mind.


In the Chinese PLA’s doctrine space is the strategic high ground for cyber, but cyber in turn is the strategic high ground for psychological warfare. The PLA uses cyber for psychological warfare externally to disrupt its adversaries and internally to suppress dissent and to establish social control. These are the new empires of the mind that are being built in an era of great power rivalry.


We often hear comparisons of the innovation economy in the US and the UK with that of China, but it is important to grasp that the Chinese model is a radically different proposition to ours. The application of cyber and AI for internal controls means that China and its close allies are building technology based authoritarianism. This is in sharp contrast to our open systems and the underlying altruism of our innovation economy that enables our freedom of choice, even if the luxury of having so many choices and so much convenience can at times be overwhelming to us.


The ultimate prize in this tournament of shadows is speed. Whoever masters speed will steal a march. And speed is a consequence of cloud based big data that enables machine learning, AI, and ultimately, cognitive systems. Cloud has enabled us to aggregate more data in the last few years than in the preceding 2000 years. This in turn enables us to learn from patterns in data on an unprecedented way. This enables us to bring the transformative power of different forms of AI to bear on real world problems.


As Alex Younger, the Chief of MI-6, said in his recent remarks this is a contest for the future of knowledge itself. In the last 5 years China has invested in more than 60 percent of all AI deals worldwide using its Communist Party controlled platform companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT). Russia, lacking similar platforms, will be loser in this new global AI arms race. Russia as a lone wolf, because of its cyber aggression, is destined to become a price taker of Chinese AI technologies.


How do we then defend space and cyber? As Jamil Jaffer of IronNet shared there is only one effective defense model in the 21st in the Century- collective defense. Jamil explained how this can be applied to create a network of networks defence for enterprises and governments based on machine leaning.


Collective defense also means creating new partnerships and alliances. Governments on their own can no longer drive innovation. In this venture capital has a crucial role to play in the private sector working with Enterprises and Governments.


In the West we invested about 4 billion USD in cybersecurity venture capital deals in 2017 and about the same amount in AI venture capital deals. Seventy percent of these VC dollars are invested in the US with the UK following as the next centre of excellence.


This is however not nearly enough. We need to continue to scale the VC dollars that builds innovation in these spaces with new partnerships. Venture capital co-investment is one way to do so whether with Government, for example the UK’s new national security innovation fund, partnering with corporate venture capital or with university endowments.


Collective defense also requires that there must be a point where we draw a line under commercial competition in the national interest and in the interest of the defence of the realm. This is a critical responsibility for us as business leaders. We cannot allow the ruthless pursuit of profit to sabotage critically needed national security innovation to protect our populations and warfighters.


This responsibility is as important as our responsibility as business leaders to state consistently and clearly that we have countries and freedoms worth defending. If we do not shoulder these responsibilities with a sense of urgency, we will have succumbed to our adversaries’ psychological warfare. We will have surrendered our precious freedoms for generations to come.


Finally, we need leadership to build new partnerships and alliances around how we train and find talent, continuously enable a culture of innovation and create the right regulatory frameworks to protect our innovation gains.


As you can see much needs to be done to defend space and cyber. But as General Keith Alexander, the CEO of IronNet, reminds us this fight can be won through collective security. We now have to grab the day.






André Pienaar to speak at panel discussion on Digital Warfare at London Summit 2018

André Pienaar will be part of a panel discussion entitled ‘Digital Warfare: Defending Ourselves in Space and Online’ at the Milken Institute as part of the London Summit 2018.

Bringing together many of the leading minds in business, government, technical, philanthropy and media, the Milken Institute’s 8th annual London Summit will host a number of discussions tackling the most provocative and important questions of our time.

The ‘Digital Warfare: Defending Ourselves in Space and Online’ panel discussion will include a discussion on the overarching themes of cyber warfare, cyber security and space technology. Andre will share his thoughts on recent high-profile hacking episodes and what organisations can do to prevent future threats. There will also be discussion on several related, equally important topics such as the emergent protective technologies and how these current threats affect the way we conduct interstate relations, trade and warfare in the future as well as discussion on how military and civilian companies can work together to combat these pervasive, modern threats.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Kevin Klowden, Executive Director at the Center for Regional Economics and California Centre, Milken Institute. The panel will also include Drew Bagley, Vice President and Counsel, Privacy and Cyber Policy at CrowdStrike, Jamil Jaffer, Vice President for Strategy and Business Development of IronNet Cybersecurity and Nick Shave, Director of Strategic Programmes, Inmarsat; Chair, UKspace Security and Defence Committee.

The event will take place of Tuesday, December 4 between 10:15-11:15am at Park Plaza – Place 4-6.

More information about this event is available here.

Welcome remarks to the innovation and social impact investment dinner during the AWS Imagine Conference in Seattle.

André Pienaar, Founder, C5
7th August, 2018

Napoleon said that in war, the moral forces are three to one. In C5, we believe the same about investment and about innovation.

It therefore gives us great pleasure to host the second dinner on social impact investment and innovation during the AWS Imagine Conference in Seattle this week.

Why is C5, as a venture capital firm, a partner of AWS? AWS is not an investor in C5. As a venture capital firm our investor families decided to partner with AWS, not because of money, but because of the moral forces.

This may sound like an uncommercial way of thinking by our investor families, but let me explain to you how we think in C5.

Venture capital is all about building profitable partnerships with successful entrepreneurs. AWS’s support for startups and entrepreneurs worldwide is simply unrivalled. We are often amazed to see how an almost trillion-dollar company like Amazon can focus on the success of a small startup that runs on AWS. Our family investors are investing to help make a difference. We had an inspirational day today sharing innovation for not-for-profit missions with each other. As evidenced by the Imagine Conference, we can also say that AWS’s support for not-for-profits and their missions worldwide is exceptional. Finally, AWS and its people’s consistent quest for innovation struck a chord with us. We share a belief that innovation is not only about improving products and services for customers but also about creating new models for serving others.

It is a combination of these three factors that led C5 to join the AWS Activate programme through which AWS supports accelerators and startups worldwide.

Now, let me share with you our experiment in innovating social impact investment. C5, with the PeaceTech Lab, AWS and SAP NS2 run an accelerator in Washington DC that focuses on peacetech. The term “peacetech” may be completely new to you. What does “peacetech” mean?

Peacetech is about the drawing on all of the strengths of American innovation for good rather than for bad. American innovation is unique. It is uniquely built on an open innovation model. This model not only shares the benefits of its innovation worldwide, but also often shares the actual know-how with partners. The world has benefited exponentially from this model over many years.

This has been accelerated by cloud computing, which reduces the costs of computing power for everyone by 50 percent every three years. This is an extraordinary boon to the global economy. The pace at which cloud is reducing the cost of computing power makes innovation more accessible to everyone, year on year. The top 10 cloud computing companies are all American. The cloud sector is a great strength of the US economy. Cloud is the beating heart of innovation today not only in the US but worldwide.
Peacetech is built on this open and inclusive innovation model. Peacetech is also built on the power of the cloud to scale rapidly. It is a movement to scale startups and technologies that can help accelerate development, prevent conflict and, as President Reagan said “build a strong peace for America and for everyone.”

In the PeaceTech Accelerator, we do this with our partners by building a network of more than 1,800 entrepreneurs, who are really young leaders, many of them from conflict-affected countries who are dedicated to this mission to innovate the way in which we develop countries and manage conflict.

To give you just 3 recent examples: Anona helps subsistence farmers in East Africa use blockchain to bring transparency to the way they get paid in the supply chain to supermarkets by cutting out the middle men; Hala Systems help to protect civilian populations through cloud linked sensors from air attacks in the Syrian civil war; Video Volunteers empower citizen journalists in India to help achieve factual and accurate media reporting.

Practically, this means that we help scale these startups by giving them 5 C’s during their time in the Accelerator: (1) We build the capacity of the team; (2) We help them to get smarter about using the cloud; (3) We work to win transformative clients; (4) We teach how to raise capital and; (5) We certify the startups at the end of the programme.

We build this partnership through an intensive programme of mentorship on campus over 8 weeks. We are privileged to have an amazing and committed community of mentors, each a leader in their field, who volunteers their time to help scale the startups.

Our accelerator is an experiment in innovating early stage venture capital and social impact investment.

Innovation requires resilience because it can bring great adversity to the innovators. I am reminded of Jumo Games, one of our first startups, that bring communities together through gaming in the world’s poorest country in the midst of a devastating civil war. No one knows this adversity better than our entrepreneurs who are building their businesses against the odds, often out of poverty, to help bring peace in conflict-affected countries.

We want to say a heartfelt thanks tonight to our resilient partners: to the Peacetech Lab, to SAP NS2 and to AWS; to our mentors; and most importantly, to our entrepreneurs, for your strength of commitment.

In conclusion, yes, innovation can bring adversity. But innovation also gives unrivalled freedom; freedom from the chains of old broken models. As a young man, I had the privilege to meet Nelson Mandela. Mandela was an innovation leader throughout his life. He was imprisoned for 27 years as a result, in a desolate place and often in solitary confinement. Mandela loved reciting a poem called “Invictus” to encourage young people in adversity. Invictus is Latin for “unconquerable”. Mandela’s favourite lines from this poem were:

“It matters not how strait the gate,
how charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”

This, is the freedom of innovation.

Thank you.