Consider the following scenario. You get up in the morning, most probably with the alarm set on your phone. You then check it for messages or email. Then, if you are the fitness type, you either have the phone wrapped on your arm or use a device that monitors the amount of calories burnt, among other things.
As the day ends, there is still work from office that needs sorting out. Apart from the fact that technology plays a consistent role in your daily chores, there are possibilities that your data — either personal or official — can be misused.
To fend off such cyber attacks amid the profusion of technology, the need for better cyber security has assumed huge proportions, something the common man as well as governments are grappling with. As a result, large companies spend billions of dollars to ensure their systems have the best, fool-proof security.
Smaller companies, that do not have millions of dollars at their disposal, however, struggle to tackle the challenges arising out of cyber security. DSD Infosec, headquartered in Mohali, Punjab, is attempting to address this problem.
“The core idea of DSD is to bring affordable security tools for small businesses around the globe,” explains Sastry Tumuluri, its founder and CEO. Tumuluri’s team consists of Joseph Jude, a consultant for the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and CTO of DSD Infosec; Pragti Chauhan, head, Cloud DevOps and SecOps, and Davinder Kamboj, who heads app development on Android and iOS.
Web security tools
The first of such products to hit the market is ActiFend, a security platform that allows website owners complete visibility of hacker attacks on their website. Put simply, it will be like a dashboard which will enable a website to see from whom and where the attacks are coming. “ActiFend gives the power of enterprise-class web security tools in a cloud-based Security as a Service (SaaS) in an affordable manner. SaaS is nothing but using software through subscription rather than owning it.
The majority of the world’s websites today use blind defences, says Tumuluri. Blind defences mean a situation where attacker and attack information is unavailable to the defenders. This puts the latter at a great disadvantage as they cannot adapt to the constantly changing techniques of the attackers, he says.
In the classic Protect-Detect-Respond defence approach recommended by experts, only the first part (protect) is easily available to defenders. DSD is making an effort to change this by making the ‘detect and respond’ capabilities available to everyone, instead of being a privilege available only for large companies.
So, how and when did they come up with this idea? The idea was born when the founders were doing the final year of their internship. They were working on the latest SIEM technologies and realised this was a service that everyone needed badly but was available only to large enterprises.
Difficult concept, expensive product
While the vision statement is straightforward, challenges in building a business of this kind in India, where investment behaviour is skewed towards food delivery and e-commerce start-ups, is a matter of concern for companies that are building a business-to-business product. Added to that is the important task of getting customers to give their buy-in for a product; this is of importance (unlike selling HR software) and is one of the reasons many companies in India have been reluctant to get into this space.
“Selling security solutions is a challenge in itself due to limited awareness and overall reluctance of businesses to invest in security,” says Tumuluri. Also, it is technically complex and challenging — one of the reasons why such solutions have been so expensive and available only to larger entities. Development of a good proof of concept and the first technically viable product required significant investment of time and money. The first product took nearly one year to develop and take to the market, points out Tumuluri.
Very few investors understand the domain and are, hence, wary. The concept is also difficult to explain. This challenge continues to date, he says, but that it is something they hope to change.
The company is banking on increased subscriptions to drive revenue growth. The basic plan starts at $1 a month to a volume plan priced at $80 a month. The basic plan covers 10,000 hits on a website and the volume plan covers 30 million hits a month. But what happens when the threats increase when one is subscribed to a particular plan? If you experience higher than usual web traffic due to normal business reasons, you can purchase one or more event packs, which serve as reserve capacity. When your traffic reaches the plan-limit, one event pack from your available reserve is automatically applied to increase your quota for the month. Each event pack adds 100,000 hits.
The company has been bootstrapped but recently received ₹1crore in angel investment. Efforts are under way to obtain an additional investment of ₹2 crore, which would go further in product development and marketing efforts.
In a market where Israeli companies have made huge inroads, and often get acquired by larger companies, DSD wants to stand up and be counted too.