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‘Privacy is a right’: CEO Vikram Venkatasubramanian on why Nandi Security goes the extra mile to tackling cyberattacks targeting homes and small businesses
“We have seen a strong rise in targeted cyberattacks on individuals over the last few years. The starting point for all of these is data and intelligence on each one of us personally.”
Nandi Security is an online privacy and security company. The first company to bring intelligent digital safety to internet-connected homes in a simple, affordable solution that allowed ordinary people to make truly informed choices on their daily digital lives. Nandi is headquartered in the Boston area.
Vikram Venkatasubramanian and Prakash Manghwani founded Nandi Security and currently serve as the CEO and CTO of the company respectively. Vikram has been a technologist for over 25 years including 13 years in cybersecurity. He has built and brought products to market working at or with several large players in the cybersecurity industry. Vikram defines the vision for Nandi Security as well as leads the product and market strategy.
Prakash brings 25 years of technology industry experience including over a decade working on DARPA-hard problems including cybersecurity, cloud systems with real-time and fault-tolerant properties artificial social intelligence, vulnerability analysis, and more. He leads engineering efforts at Nandi Security.
The Silicon Review reached out to Mr. Venkatasubramanian, and here’s what he had to say.
Q. Why was Nandi Security born? What pain points did you set out to solve?
Over my 13+ years in cyber security, I have had the opportunity to work with or interact with some of the foremost cyber defenders in the world. I was always intrigued by the extent to which they protected the security of the devices in their homes as well as their privacy. These interactions led me to deeply analyze my home network as well as the contracts that we each sign up for every time we use an app, device, internet-based service, or website. The findings brought me to two realizations. Firstly, the incredible volume and depth of information being extracted about each one of us by hundreds of entities thousands of times a day! Secondly, that it takes very advanced technical knowledge to identify and block these privacy and security threats. Privacy is a fundamental right and it should not be limited to only those who have deep technical skills. I started Nandi to solve these very problems i.e. to raise awareness of the extent of privacy and security threats we face in our own homes every day as well as to provide simple, affordable solutions to protect everyone.
Q. Why is it important for homes and businesses to have privacy and security protection?
The extraction of very personal and sensitive information from each of us is indeed the equivalent of an unwarranted search of your home – something that is illegal under the 4th Amendment. We have seen a strong rise in targeted cyberattacks on individuals over the last few years. The starting point for all of these is data and intelligence on each one of us personally. So, where does this data come from? If we leak information thousands of times a day on where we live, where we shop, what devices and apps we use, where we bank, what our sexual orientation is, what we watch on TV, what ailments we have and more, it becomes orders of magnitude simpler to steal our identity, our resources or even manipulate us into actions that we would not have engaged in. We, at Nandi Security, believe we cannot have a true conversation about online security in our homes without a conversation about privacy since privacy is central to key security paradigms such as identity and behaviors.
Q. In your opinion, why are individuals still unaware of the risks hiding in their home networks, apps, devices, and websites they use?
Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how Nandi Security helped them overcome those challenges?
Kavalan, from Nandi Security, is a consumer product. We see success in the fact that our users report that, on average, over 10% of the traffic in their home in any given 24-hour period is related to data gathering by hundreds of different companies – something that Kavalan actively and automatically blocks. That adds up to hundreds of companies on a daily basis that have less access to our personal data. In addition, we see that a lot of websites that homes talk to are consistently malicious or have embedded malicious sites in them as ads. Kavalan identifies and blocks all of these threats automatically and gives our users control over what they want to be able to block in their homes. We recently worked with a broadband provider to help protect their subscriber homes. Hundreds of home routers were infected and were acting as part of a botnet network. Kavalan was able to block these homes from communicating with these botnet sites as well as give the broadband service provider the ability to quickly block these routers on their network to participate in the attack.
Tell us, what’s next for Nandi Security.
With Kavalan Light and Kavalan Standard, Nandi has brought to market two simple, affordable solutions that provide consumers automatic protection for all their devices as well as easily digestible insights on the threats they faced. The average home today has enough computing, network, and storage to rival a small enterprise from just a decade ago but lacks equivalent scales of protection. Kavalan is moving towards becoming a truly comprehensive Intelligent Digital Safety platform that can act as an automated, simple ‘SOC-in-a-box’ (security operations center in a box) for the connected home that protects everyone and everything as well as enables everyone to make informed choices with the apps, devices, websites, and services they use.
Q. Is there anything you would like to add before we wrap up?
We live in a world where we conduct large and critical parts of our lives online. The data footprint that we leave daily is already massive and it is going to explode more with the advent of the metaverse, and the increasing number of wearable and embedded devices in our lives and body. Our data is indeed our identity and our identity can be unique and defined by multiple combinations of data points about us. For children being born now, data about them has been collected even before they were born. The 4th Amendment protects us against illegal search and seizure and we all need to work to ensure it applies to and is enforced on our data as well. Technology alone cannot solve this problem, it is going to need awareness and activism from people to ensure laws are in place to penalize the violators.