Science and Technology

Defence against the dark web

M Ramesh | Updated on October 24, 2021

CloudSEK provides businesses AI-based digital risk management

If Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were real, it would be teaching ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘machine learning’ to thwart threats from the dark arts today, because nothing else seems to work.

The traditional way of protecting data has been to build a firewall around it; improvements to it have been like strengthening a castle wall.

But, sigh! the data itself no longer resides within the firewall — so how do you protect it?

At a time when your data is in the cloud or with your service providers, hackers have a field day. Billions of passwords float around in the dark web, sold and bought by crooks.

The nature of providing cyber security is changing — from keeping malware out to actively seeking out a threat and neutralising it before it strikes you.

Threat monitoring solutions, such as anti-virus, intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems are not even meant to counter the threats posed by internet-exposed infrastructure.

For example, you might want to access a service provider like a ticket booking portal. The portal company may have robust systems to protect your data, such as your credit card details. But if the search itself has taken you to a fake portal of the same name, then the robustness of the real portal’s systems is of no help.

CloudSEK, a Bengaluru-based start-up, describes itself as an ‘artificial intelligence-powered digital risk management enterprise’. It specialises in the area called ‘external threat intelligence’. Sourabh Issar, the company’s CEO, says their AI/ML-based threat management systems detect and provide actionable reports to clients.

“We are basically the eyes and ears of our customers,” Issar told Quantum.

CloudSEK essentially scans the internet for its clients. The scan generates thousands of alerts; a machine learning algorithm distils the results and identifies a few real and actionable threats. Over time, the system has improved with more data and feedback. With the algorithms in place, the task now is to minimise false positives and false negatives, which is what the company’s technical staff mostly does today.

Cyber threat is very real and ever-present, Issar says, naming a number of Indian companies, including pharmaceutical, that have been breached in recent times. The need of the hour, therefore, is to not just react to attacks but also anticipate and mitigate.

CloudSEK counts big names among its customers — HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, Kotak Bank, Airtel, Reliance and National Payment Corporation of India. From six when it started three years ago, it has more than 80 clients today.

The start-up was founded by Rahul Sasi, a former employee of Citrix who describes himself as an ethical hacker. He is currently its Executive Chairman. The company employs a hundred technical people.

Issar says its success rate in threat alerts is over 95 per cent, which he describes as pretty high by industry standards.

The start-up has been funded by Inflexor, a deep-tech focused venture capital firm, and is expected to announce its second round of funding shortly.

Published on October 24, 2021

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