Kumar Ritesh is a cybersecurity veteran. In his former role, he headed the cyber intelligence practice at Britain’s ‘secret intelligence service’ MI6. “My life has been a bit of an adventure. I worked in state intelligence for almost eight years,” he tells YourStory.

In 2016, after his injunction got over, Ritesh joined global analytics company Antuit.ai, and went on to set up its cyber analytics division – Cyfirma – in 2017. 

Cut to October 2019, Cyfirma was backed by investment banking and financial services giant Goldman Sachs, and later, demerged from Antuit to become an independent entity. “It was always a part of the agreement that once we grew, we would become a separate company,” Ritesh reveals. 

The startup is headquartered in Singapore and Tokyo, with an office in Bengaluru, where most of its product engineering happens. 

Even though cybersecurity and threat analytics are gaining importance globally, the focus largely lies on risk management than on risk prevention. That is the mindset Cyfirma wants to change with DeCYFIR, its threat discovery and cyber intelligence platform.

Kumar Ritesh _Cyfirma

Kumar Ritesh, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Cyfirma

With threat visibility and predictive analytics, the startup helps businesses connect the dots between threat actors, motives, methods, and campaigns (attacks). 

Founder-Chairman-CEO Ritesh says,

“The way cyber intelligence is looked at is changing in the last two or three years. Earlier, companies saw it as just another tool that can be added to their security infrastructure. But now, the market has begun to understand that cybersecurity is not just a disaster management thing; it can also be applied in strategy, compliance, policy, and all business decisions.”

Cyfirma claims it has on-boarded four new customers during the pandemic as the world moves towards a full-blown trade war (including cyber warfare) between the West and China, where the coronavirus originated. 

“More and more enterprises are now waking up to the need for predictive cyber intelligence for their businesses,” Ritesh says. 

Also ReadCoronavirus: Zoom crosses 300 million daily users; outlines new security planCyfirma’s core intelligence platform

Cyfirma offers its clients comprehensive real-time insights and intelligence into emerging cyber threats, attacks, hacking scandals, and more.

The platform enables businesses to understand the methods and motives behind potential cyberattacks, and helps them prepare for it accordingly. 

Its cloud-based threat discovery platform uses predictive algorithms to crawl through discreet sources like the dark web, deep web, hacker forums, closed communities, P2P channels, intelligence agencies, and even social and public discussion forums to identify threats. 

“We collect almost 100GB of data every eight hours,” says Ritesh. 

This data is stored in Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers and analysed to help businesses understand the context of the threat and prepare against cyber risks. 

Cybersecurity Company

Also ReadIndia created 170,000 tech jobs in 2018; AI, analytics, cybersecurity in demand: NASSCOM

Ritesh elaborates,

“Businesses can apply our threat intelligence to build their risk frameworks. We tell them things like which critical assets could the hackers break into, what the motive behind an attack is, what are they looking for — IP or financial gains, what could the likely mode of attack be — phishing, email or malware, and so on.

"We also help our clients understand the readiness of hackers – how soon are they going to launch a potential attack," he adds.

DeCYFIR uses AI and ML-led “analytical probability models” to prevent attacks. The data collected from secret sources is processed by these models to throw up indicators on the threats.

“We go three levels down from just identifying a malicious IP,” explains the founder.

However, Cyfirma does not execute any cyber programmes on their clients’ behalf. “We are like whistleblowers. We leave it to our clients to take action on the intelligence update we provide,” Ritesh adds. 

Without disclosing names, the founder shares that Cyfirma’s intelligence platform was able to save $400 million for one company. That amount would have been eroded off its topline if an imminent cyberattack wasn’t prevented. 

Incidentally, global cybercrime damages are projected to reach $6 trillion annually by 2021, according to Herjavec Group, a leading cybersecurity advisory firm.

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After almost two years of product development, Cyfirma rolled out its threat intelligence platform in 2019.

The startup has roped in 20 clients from across sectors, including manufacturing, technology, IoT, IT /BPO, banking and insurance, broadcasting, and more. “Our solution is sector-agnostic,” says Ritesh. 

Cyfirma claims its clients include global Fortune 500 companies, consulting firms, law enforcement agencies, defence establishments, and even governments. 

Ritesh says,

“CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers), CROs (Chief Risk Officers), CIOs (Chief Information Officers) and CCOs (Chief Compliance Officers) are our primary customers. They understand the severity of the threat and the quality of intelligence we provide.”


The global cybersecurity market estimated to reach $188.8 billion by 2023

The startup shares that its total contract value (TCV) stands at $3.5 million, and is expected to grow 2X to $7 million by the end of the year. “COVID-19 has been a boon for us,” says the founder. 

“With companies sending their employees remote, they are worried about their data and IP. We give them insights on what we are seeing in the hackers’ community and all the anonymised conversations, and advise them on how to protect their data,” he adds.

Cyfirma has a three-pronged approach to revenue: a SaaS-based pure-play model, which gives clients access to the threat prediction software; a software + services model, which gives them reports, analytics, and account management personnel; and a third-party data model, where intelligence collected by Cyfirma is shared with other agencies.

It also provides cyber education to its clients to train their employees and contractors. 

Also ReadZoom continues to be privacy nightmare; hacked accounts selling on the dark webFunding and future roadmap

Earlier in February, Cyfirma raised an undisclosed Series A round from Z3P Partners, which joined its early backers Goldman Sachs and Zodius Capital. The total funding raised by the startup now stands at $8 million.

Gautam Patel, Managing Partner, Z3Partners, said at the time of funding,

“Cyfirma’s offering is well-timed with the rapidly increasing demand for quality threat intelligence to guide digital transformation and drive business results. The platform is a powerful solution to bring threat intelligence conversations into boardrooms across all industries.”

The startup plans to utilise the funds in product engineering, hiring fresh talent, and expansion across new territories in Asia-Pacific and the US. “We plan to use the money on research and market expansion. We haven’t explored the US yet, that is on the cards,” says the founder. 

Cyfirma Team

Cyfirma's India team is based out of Bengaluru

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Cyfirma also plans to grow its team from 44 to 70. It is looking to close a Series B round of $25 million by the end of 2020. 

It operates in a global cybersecurity market estimated to reach $188.8 billion by 2023, according to Gartner. Cyfirma competes with Recorded Future, FireEye iSIGHT, LogRhythm, Anomali, and others.

In India, the cybersecurity opportunity is projected to be $13.6 billion by 2025, according to NASSCOM. The growth of the sector is being driven by the increased awareness about cyber threats, and push from regulatory agencies.

Ritesh sums up saying, “India has started to take cybersecurity very seriously. There have been many advocates in the last few years, and cybersecurity has grown with the rise of smartphones and digitisation.”

(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)

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Original Source: yourstory.com

With all of us restricted to our homes, huge stress triggers about our health form the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. How many times do you find yourself worrying anxiously about the what-if scenarios, only to search online for COVID-19 insurance? A quick search online, a few clicks on your favourite digital wallet app and you are all set to face the novel virus just with a few hundred rupees. Phew, easy isn’t it?

The insurance sector is now witnessing a slew of new players joining the fray, selling insurance primarily online, keeping costs and premiums low (including ‘sachetising’ the product) to disrupt the traditional model of buying and servicing the insurer.

Appealing to the digitally-savvy Indian consumer is easier than ever as more Indians take to the internet and offer the largest opportunity globally (apart from the US) for venture capitalists to target Indian customers. And why not, you ask?

InsurtechAlso ReadNikhil Kamath of Zerodha on everything you need to know about investing and trading during COVID-19India is a goldmine for any investor as it has:The second-largest population in the world (second only to China which is closed to outside investments)More than 50 percent of its population is below the age of 25 and more than 65 percent below the age of 35. It is expected that, in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years.The lowest cost of data globallyThe second-largest smartphone population in the worldRoughly 600 million monthly active customers accessing the world wide webLowest levels of insurance penetration at 3.69 percent.

Consumers are bombarded with product information, how to buy insurance online for their cycle, their mobile phone, even their branded spectacles – all on their devices.

This zealousness of the investor community in India’s fast-emerging disruptor of the large insurance companies (standing at 24 life insurers, 34 general insurers) is reflected in the $183 million that flowed into the ecosystem in 2019. This has lead to the emergence of a new category of fintech called InsurTech.

InsurTech is a combination of the words “insurance” and “technology,” inspired by the term fintech. InsurTech is a term used for a company using technology to disrupt the insurance industry.

India stands at the second position, globally, given PE/VC investments in InsurTech (cecond only to the US). It’s noteworthy, that large technology companies, global digital giants such as Amazon, Google, Alibaba, and Tencent have all entered the InsurTech fray, creating global disruption.

Policybazaar and Bankbazaar have become the go-to destinations for aggregated experiences across search, discovery, and comparison. Customers aren’t, however, looking for life insurance but searching for incident-specific protection – like missing a flight, taking a cab ride on a cab aggregator platform or a hotel stay during a low-cost holiday.

This need is served by micro-insurer startups marking the emergence of an interesting new trend disrupting the traditional model by making insurance available to all and for various micro categories, easier, cheaper and faster.

Some have partnered with large digital giants to scale distribution and use case coverage to innovate on new product categories.

Quoting from a recent piece by Rahul Mathur, Startup Lead at Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab, who writes on this sector, there are three emerging InsurTech “trends” in India —

Embedded insurance – Acko Insurance leads the pack here with its recent partnership with OYO Rooms.Small ticket insurance – Incumbent insurers have caught on fast with this trend, but Toffee Insurance stands out with its Kamai Bachao Yojna, dengue insurance, etc.Novel distribution mechanisms – Bancassurance 2.0, digital channels etc; Max Bupa Health Insurance and IDBI Bank win with the Any Time Health (ATH) machines.

In the post-COVID world, where contact-free becomes the new mantra, face-to-face meetings and operational processes requiring high touch methods are bound to get obsolete.

To deal with the pandemic, we have observed that the speed of policymaking is unprecedented, therefore, it is the right time to identify opportunities of disruption and striking while the iron is hot — the opportunity is here and now.

Also ReadWhy Kunal Shah believes you shouldn’t envy others’ money but their skills insteadOpportunities for insurers post-COVID-19

Here are five opportunities for Incumbents and Disruptors in the post-COVID world to lower the barriers of friction, knowledge, and pricing, for customers to participate in this value chain to protect themselves, their family, business, homes, and other valuable assets

1. Reimagining the core market and productReaching the un(der)insured with the right products and fit

Emerging solutions for new markets and new customers (bite-sized insurance, pay-as-you-use, bundling insurance with Use Cases)

Usage or behaviour-based personalised insurance (one size fits all strategy will not work for the new segment of users, customisation is key)2. Customer Experience Management and Reducing Friction in the product life cycle New players have been able to instantly stand-up all insurance-related processes to provide a digital experience to consumers. Taking a leaf from their book, creating a digital-first, mobile-only experience is key to winning new users.

Friction in disjointed experiences and ease of finding information has been sighted as the major reasons why consumers opt for searching for insurance products with new-age players instead of traditional insurers. Usher in innovative ways to settle claims, and catching fraudulent users while safeguarding the experience of good trustworthy individuals.

Online payments are observed even in hinterland even though India is a cash-based economy. Focus and prioritise safety, security and, convenience in payment methods to appeal to all consumers in buying insurance, paying premiums, receiving settlements, etc.3. Leverage New-Age Tech to Bolster GrowthWith the emergence of blockchain, AI, and other technologies, integrate them into now to reap the dividends later.

Sharper Underwriting to bring more people into insurance covers. Reinvent this area use of data, analytics, and Machine Learning.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for the automation of business activities and processes.

Using technology to aid fraud detection at the point of underwriting, assessing risk, and weeding out gamers from the ecosystem.

Robo Advisory to help users pick the right insurance products.4. Digital First (Selling and Servicing)Move away from the brick-and-mortar model of selling insurance covers, servicing clients.

Overuse 3V’s: voice, video and vernacular to over-communicate why insurance is a priority for everyone in the post-COVID era, and how to stay invested in the long term.

Drive retention and renewals with aggressive digital selling and service.

Create a social revolution: Moving education online and educating users digitally.

Rethink Human Capital Strategies: Upskilling sales and agents is key to ensuring customers do not opt for competitors who have highly qualified staff to address queries and concerns emerging from the lack of face-to-face interaction involved in the sell and the retain stages of the customer life cycle.5. Addressing Cyber Security as an Emerging Category while protecting consumer dataInvest in data privacy for customers, employees, and the business. Data breaches cost the business; brand risk is only a small casualty when compared to the cost of acquiring servicing a customer over the lifetime of the product.

Digitisation brings huge responsibility of being able to protect customer and business-sensitive data from malicious hackers.

Addressing Cyber Security Insurance as a product category: The risk of escalating cyber threats have created a completely new need for businesses to safeguard themselves with risk mitigation solutions against data breaches and cyber-attacks. Cyber insurance market is expected to grow to $9 billion by 2020. Startups in cyber insurance are enablers of ‘CISO-as-a-service’ for SMBs. This is a big opportunity as the threat of cyber attacks increases

Also ReadCoronavirus: Adapting business during COVID-19 pandemic


Whenever customer friction intersects with untapped profit potential, disruption is bound to occur. The Indian insurance sector is at the cusp of exponential growth.

For insurers to participate and contribute to this growth, it is imperative that they are not only aware of emerging trends, but also that they embrace these trends holistically.

Embracing digital transformation forged by quick decisions and investment into the business is the key to future growth and sustenance.

(Edited by Kanishk Singh)

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

How has the coronavirus outbreak disrupted your life? And how are you dealing with it? Write to us or send us a video with subject line 'Coronavirus Disruption' to [email protected]

Original Source: yourstory.com