In our first interview series, Ani Chaudhuri, our Co-founder and CEO, shares his thoughts on the ins and outs of his journey to bringing Dasera to life. Read on to discover lessons he learned from the field and his intent behind building Dasera.
Ani Chaudhuri, Co-founder and CEO of Dasera
1. Tell us how you came to be the Co-founder and CEO at Dasera. How much of your typical day is involved in innovating new technology for your customers?
About a third of my time is spent thinking about the problems our customers face and coming up with ways we can best solve for those problems through Dasera. This means talking to customers or partners first-hand and researching competitors to better understand what existing security solutions are in place and what’s missing in the security landscape for us to be able to close the gap. The remaining two-thirds of my time is dedicated to enabling the team to do the best work they can do. This could range from resource mobilization to hiring to helping the company pull in the same direction.
2. How did you define the vision of Dasera? How did you approach your first 100 days as the CEO at Dasera?
Our vision is to help build trust between consumers and companies by enabling the safe use of sensitive data. To achieve that, we provide data lifecycle security in the cloud.
In the first 100 days, my Co-founder, Dr. Noah Johnson, and I did 3 things. We interviewed customers to learn about the pain points they face when it comes to locating and protecting sensitive data, talked to investors to raise our seed round and hired team members who could build our vision.
3. What are the applications or rather opportunities you seek to have with Dasera Radar?
Our primary focus with Dasera Radar is to provide visibility and insights into how an organization stores, moves and uses data.
4. What are some of the distinctive features of Dasera Radar? How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
Our core technology is built around Dr. Noah Johnson’s research at UC Berkeley. In contrast to binary, rule-based approaches, we focus on understanding HOW data is being used rather than WHO has access to it through a concept called query analysis and query rewriting. In layman’s terms: Every engineer, analyst or data scientist uses data through a series of queries. If we can understand the context in which data is being used by analyzing the potential risk of a query before it runs on a data warehouse, then we can rewrite the query to make it safe. This enables us to prevent privacy violations and exfiltration exposures.
5. What are some of the unique lessons you have learned from analyzing your customers’ behaviors?
This is a very new space for security companies. One of the insights we gained was that while the data lifecycle is where most of the risks lie, this is a very underinvested space.
Existing security solutions have been built to harden the perimeter, but none have been engineered to secure the entire data lifecycle.
We are thankful to several lighthouse customers who have worked alongside us to help build a platform that can help companies manage data from creation to deletion.
6. In 2020, Dasera’s Book on Insider Threats – Summer 2020, received a huge response from the industry. Would you like to share key content pieces from the book for our audience?
Last year, we published the inaugural version of the Red Book where we had 15 co-authors including the CISOs at Roblox, 7-Eleven, BetterUp, AllState, TiVo, and Vroom among many other tech executives. The book’s focus in 2020 was on insider threats and how sensitive data was used by employees. Each of the contributing authors wrote about their own experiences and strategies on insider threats and also offered very specific tactical suggestions for other cybersecurity practitioners.
7. Can you talk about your recent launch of Yellowstone release? Can you share a few snippets or an explainer video on how it works?
Our Yellowstone release brings ‘data lifecycle security to cloud data stores’. Our platform (i) discovers & classifies sensitive data, (ii) suggests & manages policies, (iii) provides security & assists compliance and (iv) ensures secure data usage. Our solution reduces load on security teams through a workflow based on automation, federation and simplification.
Several public and pre-IPO companies are using Dasera’s platform. The platform’s first-time use is very efficient and takes less than an hour to deploy, scan and report potential threats.
8. As per recent news, Dasera is planning to release a winter edition of the Red Book. Could you please share the key content pieces?
The new Red Book in 2021 is going to be the CISO Red Book. The key chapters will be themed on:
- Do consumers trust brands with their data and what causes trust or distrust?
- How has the transition to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic affected the organization perimeter and posed new security risks for companies?
- What does the cloud data lifecycle look like and where are the biggest security gaps?
- What’s next in the compliance and regulation space?
- Why are there so few women in security, what roles do they play, and how can we have more gender balance in the industry?
In the 2021 edition, there will be 20 co-authors – 15 new CISOs and tech executives as well as 5 co-authors from the previous version.
9. What are some of the common pain points that your customers commonly approach you with?
The most common pain points our customers have is lack of visibility and control of data as it moves across a company, touched by various stakeholders and eventually residing in invisible corners of the infrastructure.
10. What advice would you like to give to the upcoming cybersecurity tech start-ups?
Look for a real problem and solve it well. Because of how hot the cybersecurity space is, it’s very tempting to start drinking your own kool-aid. My recommendation to start-up leaders is to stay focused on identifying real challenges and then delivering value. Actively listening to your customers and disciplined execution are keys to achieving your goals.
11. How will you encourage tech marketers to choose cybersecurity tech as their career path?
Absolutely. Unlike many other tech companies, ranging from social media to productivity solutions, security startups have a higher mission and higher purpose. If we fail, the bad guys win. It’s that simple. By being at a cyber security company, you are able to protect a 5-year old identity in a learning app, secure patient data of a new mom, and prevent a retiree’s life’s savings in a bank or brokerage account from being compromised.
12. What is the one leadership motto you live by?
To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
Read the interview featured on AI TechPark here.