Manan Shah is a prominent ethical hacker and the founder of cybersecurity company, Avalance Global Solutions. As a child, Manan showed great interest in maths and computer science. He also used to fix computers for his neighbours and relatives, as a hobby. He picked up programming languages and learned hacking via online videos. Manan’s hacking journey started in 2009 after attending a seminar on ethical hacking.
Later, Manan participated in bug bounty programs of Google, Facebook, etc to brush up his chops. He also got involved in freelance projects that helped him work towards his vision of building a brand and taking it global.
At the age of 21, Microsoft recognised Manan as top 100 security researchers in the world. He had the opportunity to solve cybercrime cases for some of the biggest MNCs such as Twitter, Yahoo!, Facebook, Nokia, Blackberry, PayPal, Skype, Google, Apple, Microsoft, among others. With the help of a couple of friends, he set up a global brand, Avalance, an online cybersecurity platform that serves clients across verticals.
The company has currently expanded its operations to the UAE, along with offices in India and the US, and has witnessed a triple-digit revenue growth year-on-year. “My goal has always been to significantly impact the cyber forensics space and contribute towards the overall holistic development of the constantly evolving cybersecurity landscape globally,” said Manan.
Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Manan Shah to understand his journey and know more about the cybersecurity landscape and discuss how his company, Avalance Global Solutions, is leveraging artificial intelligence and analytics to combat online piracy and other cybersecurity threats.
Here are the excerpts:
AIM: Could you shed some light on the biggest problems for Indian companies that put them at risk of cyber-attacks?
Manan Shah: India is among the leading countries cyber-attackers target. Indian companies are a soft target for cyber -attacks as hackers steal important data and leak it in public platforms. According to a survey, with more people working from home, there has been a 25% rise in cyber threats.
Today, cybersecurity is a part of our daily life; from opening a browser, doing online transactions or visiting a doctor, where your healthcare information needs to be protected. Even in the news, you keep hearing about the latest security breaches.
The pandemic has made work from home a norm with increased technological infrastructure dependence. Many online calls and video conferences have lately been hacked to steal important data of companies.
Additionally, cybersecurity has been experiencing negative unemployment for several years. However, in India, we face several challenges including a shortage of cybersecurity professionals and lack of regularised data infrastructure. There needs to be a marked shift in education concentrated on computer science with a focus on security.
AIM: How AI and ML are helping in cybersecurity processes and fighting against advanced cyber crimes?
Manan Shah: The most common cybersecurity tools such as anti-malware software or login audits won’t be enough to control the cyber threats. The security risks in applications and web have grown at an unprecedented rate. The advancement of technology and the use of mobiles, web and the Internet of Things has led to the rise of vulnerable threats, due to which the data of many businesses and companies are at risk.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can fight against cybercrimes as it helps by processing and analysing the huge amount of data and its behavioural patterns. Humans cannot process and analyse data as quickly as AI or ML automated engines. I believe both AI and ML can improve cybersecurity measures. While password protection or multi-factor authentication can be implemented in cybersecurity, machine learning algorithms can help classify the strength of a password and suggest complex and hard to guess passwords. It can work brilliantly with a biometric login that uses AI to detect physical traits.
AIM: What are the solutions Avalance use to help companies?
Manan Shah: My company has developed the SSORR methodology which secures business environments at all levels. From bottom to the top, we have built a methodology that provides value to the business and management team whilst ensuring the gaps with the technical team are bridged to provide a fully integrated approach to cybersecurity. Last year, we launched the world’s first AI-based solutions to stop online piracy. Avalance’s proprietary web crawling technology is capable of simulating human behaviour in searching for infringing content across the web. A specialised team of global copyright experts along with automated multi-step mitigation techniques allow us to rapidly eliminate large volumes of infringing content instantly.
AIM: How is the company leveraging data and analytics? Also, how is automation embedded in your products?
Manan Shah: At Avalance Global Solutions, we understand the need for data and analytics in tackling cyber crimes. We apply advanced analytics and business intelligence tools to huge volumes of data to get detailed insights. In our analytics process, there are various aspects like machine learning algorithms, statistics and predictive modules driven by high-performance computing systems.
I believe data and analytics can help discover valuable information that can help companies make smart decisions about anything in general. As far as automation is concerned, we provide automated analysis of alerts that help analysts keep a tab on the dangers around business operations. A machine learning-driven automation engine can process and analyse data much quicker than humans. ML automation will soon be embedded in our products and services.
AIM: Which industry verticals Avalance Global Solutions target in India and across the globe?
Manan Shah: My company Avalance Global Solutions serves the clients in India and abroad across different industries including food and beverage, technology, defence, medicine, banking, government and many other sectors. We started the company in 2015 and have expanded our footprint across the globe. Avalanche Global Solutions is going strong, and has got clients from India, Dubai and the USA.
AIM: What are your views on the lack of cybersecurity talent in India? And what is your hiring and training strategy?
Manan Shah: India has the largest IT talent pool in the world. However, the country still lacks skilled cybersecurity professionals. Many experienced cyber experts are working for global giants in Silicon Valley, California. The new bundle of cybersecurity talents need the right exposure in India. Indians have raised the bar of IT across the world, and now it’s time to make India a cyber hub.
Our hiring and training strategy for Avalance Global Solutions is simple — allow new professionals to showcase their skills and talent. We believe in training the employees and giving them 360-degree exposure as a cybersecurity analyst, security architect and cybersecurity manager. We aim to train our employees in different fields like access management, cryptography, risk auditing, network security, data analytics, software development and forensic sciences.
AIM: How to start a career in cybersecurity in 2021? Can you share some tips for current entrepreneurs and cybersecurity professionals?
Manan Shah: The first thing to start a career in cybersecurity is to gain complete knowledge about computers, softwares, hardware and the Internet. The modern digital era has made everything accessible from home. In my opinion, one can start a career in cybersecurity just by enrolling for online courses. There are a number of cybersecurity courses available in the market. The aspiring cybersecurity experts can make proper use of the Internet and attend free webinars to get a gist about the field.
The only tip I would want to give to all the budding entrepreneurs is to stay up to date with the latest market trends. Understand what’s new over the Internet, because every day there is an innovation over the web. You must be proactive and prepared for the consequence. COVID-19 pandemic was something we never expected, and no employer ever thought that work from home would become a norm. As an expert, I would want everyone to enable alerts as many fraudsters practise phishing. Lastly, every entrepreneur or an expert must train their employees to be secure on the Internet.
AIM: What is Avalance Global Solutions roadmap for 2021?
Manan Shah: The road is always under construction. Avalance Global Solutions is growing at a rapid pace. In 2019, we launched an AI-based anti-piracy solution, which was funded by businessman Raj Kundra. Last year, we expanded our operations to the UAE, and our revenue touched triple-digit despite the COVID pandemic. This year, we plan to grow bigger.
I have always aimed to start an academy under Avalance Global Solutions and have plans to launch exclusive courses for the budding hackers and cybersecurity experts. My team is still in the development process, and we have a lot of other projects to dominate the global market in 2021.