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Tech Bullion Interview with the CEO of Block Armour

Narayan Neelakantan, CEO BlockArmour

Narayan Neelakantan has over 16 years of experience in the fields of Cybersecurity, IT Governance, Risk & Compliance, and IT Infrastructure. Prior to starting Block Armour, he was the CISO and Head of IT Risk & Compliance at India’s National Stock Exchange (NSE). His role at NSE allowed him to get a firsthand view of cyberthreats and the dire need to protect critical infrastructure from all sorts of cyberattacks and cybercriminals.

1) Tell us about Block Armour, what it offers and how it came about?

Enterprises are feeling the heat as Cybersecurity incidents continue to grow and existing solutions struggle to keep pace. The escalating impact and costs today are often measured in the millions. While business drivers justify an extended enterprise ecosystem, the need to secure the critical systems that support it has grown manifold.

However, despite spending billions of dollars on cybersecurity solutions, organizations continue to defend against tomorrow’s cyberattacks with yesterday’s technology. That’s when we decided to look at ‘How can we do things differently? How can we leverage emerging technology to reclaim cybersecurity?’

Our answer to these questions was Block Armour – a next gen enterprise solution for cybersecurity; powered by SDP (Software-Defined Perimeter), Blockchain and TLS Technology. Block Armour basically delivers SDP (or Zero Knowledge Proof) architecture, enhanced with Blockchain & TLS Technology that offers us opportunities to address cyber security challenges in bold new ways.

2) What are the challenges in current cybersecurity measures and how is Block Armour helping to overcome them? How can blockchain technology address these challenges?

Most cybersecurity solutions currently available are not geared towards addressing threats from new technologies or are unable to protect the wider perimeter of an enterprise network. On the other hand, cyberattacks are getting more sophisticated and complex, with hackers constantly innovating and discovering new vulnerabilities to exploit in systems. Despite spending billions of dollars on cybersecurity, enterprises have been unable to lock down their infrastructure completely or ensure complete defense against cyberattacks.

All around the world, cybersecurity incidents are on the rise. A data breach is no longer an if, but when, for most organizations across all major industries. Cybersecurity solutions available in the market employ traditional technologies with vulnerable layers, due to frequent patching year after year, attack after attack. Meanwhile, hackers and cybercriminals continue to remain ahead of the curve – finding new ways to launch cyberattacks and cause significant financial and reputational damage to organizations, both large and small.

Existing solutions are only trying to play catch up with hackers, instead of being able to successfully get ahead of them. What enterprises require today is technology which is future-proof, and can not only safeguard against existing cyberthreats, but also continue to offer the same level of protection against tomorrow’s more sophisticated and complex threats. A solution which can render an enterprise’s critical assets impenetrable can offer a higher level of security than existing cybersecurity solutions which need to be patched on a regular basis to remain invulnerable.

SDP architecture offers a promising way to address cybersecurity challenges in a bold and future-ready way. Blockchain and TLS technology further empower the SDP architecture to make a more resilient solution. Block Armour’s Blockchain Defined Perimeter (BDP) creates an additional layer of security, using digital identity, allowing enterprises to isolate their most critical infrastructure, render them invisible, offer them completely secure and authenticated access, and provide a tamper-proof layer of protection against next-gen cyberattacks.

3) Who are your major clients?

We have launched a limited release version of the solution, and will be deploying it at two pilot clients in India – one a leading media house and the other a financial exchange. In addition, we will also deploy a pilot at a leading financial institution in Singapore.

Beyond that, we have received interest from institutions across industry verticals – potential partners and clients who are keen to deploy our blockchain powered solution for cybersecurity.

4) What are the plans Block Armour has for the future?

Block Armour has a lot of potential among enterprises that want to safeguard their critical infrastructure against the rising threat of cyberattacks and hacking attempts. As cyberthreats grow in number and complexity, enterprises are going to be more concerned about ensuring the highest level of protection for their core business systems.

Our go-to-market approach is via partners. We are in talks with major IT vendors, global system integrators as well as a set of boutique service firms that can provide client services on the back of the product.

We have been approached by public and private enterprises as well as several partners from across the globe, who are eager to take a new-age, effective cybersecurity solution to their clients. As blockchain adoption grows, we will have more takers willing to explore the potential of blockchain as an emerging technology to increase cybersecurity within enterprises.

5) What is India’s position in Blockchain and Cybersecurity?

The world over and even in India, the financial services industry is one of the leading adopters exploring the use of blockchain technology. In India, even the regulators and central agencies are showing interest in the technology. A couple of pilot projects are already underway in leading banks in the country, including projects being tested by the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) using blockchain technology to create a fabric for inter-bank connectivity.

The recent demonetization drive and the government’s move to shift to a digital economy will further increase focus on blockchain technology, not just in the financial services industry, but among other sectors as well. India is well placed to quickly adopt the technology, migrate to ‘digital’ and leapfrog its western peers when it comes to securing critical IT infrastructure and services.

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