Industry

Start-up Aujas Networks Shields Aadhaar From Hackers

A man goes through the process of eye scanning for the Unique Identification (UID) database system, also known as Aadhaar, at a registration centre in New Delhi.

A man goes through the process of eye scanning for the Unique Identification (UID) database system, also known as Aadhaar, at a registration centre in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

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Srinivas Rao is obsessive about data security. He carries two cell phones, an iPhone for official work and an Android handset for personal use. It is this kind of obsession among many mobile owners that keeps the 54-year-old CEO of cybersecurity start-up Aujas Networks on his toes and successfully manage information security risks for his clients.

These customers range from Japan‘s largest lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group to Aadhaar, the world’s largest domestic biometric identification system.

“You have to be paranoid and you have to be aware...because clients are trusting you,” said Mr. Rao, co-founder of Aujas, in an interview.

Aadhaar security

The Bengaluru-based firm is betting big on managing the cybersecurity programme for Aadhaar. This includes software-as-a-service based Internet of Things (IoT) platform for the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the issuer of the unique identity number. Given the ubiquity of Aadhaar and various use cases requiring authentication, Aujas built the platform for ‘registered device management.’ It said the platform manages every device that is registered under a unique ID resulting in prevention and protection of the device from any “alien invasion” or hacking.

“This (platform) is for managing devices used by banks and telcos to authenticate Aadhaar,” explained Mr. Rao, an alumnus of Osmania University and IIM-Bangalore.

Though Aadhaar got embroiled in data privacy security concerns, Mr. Rao said the issue is more about the privacy policy. He said the unique identification project is very mature from a security perspective. “Is the core [of Aadhaar] secure? I would absolutely say it is secure,” said Mr. Rao. “We must all be proud that a programme of this size and magnitude, probably [the] largest IT project of its kind in the world, has been done [from India],” said Mr. Rao, who co-founded Aujas in 2008.

The firm, which was incubated by venture capital firm IDG Ventures India as part of its Entrepreneur-in-Residence programme, now provides services such as security intelligence, data protection, identity and access and application security in markets such as the United States, South Asia and the Middle East. The company, which counts Aadhaar among its biggest clients in the country, said it is targeting to achieve a revenue of $50 million in the next three years.

Talent crunch

At a time when there has been a spike in hacking incidents as an increasing number of Indians are going digital and doing transactions online, companies like Aujas would play a key role in thwarting cyberattacks. More than 53,000 cybersecurity incidents were observed in the country during 2017, according to a report by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In). These included phishing, website intrusions and defacements, ransomware and denial of service attacks. But the country would need one million cybersecurity professionals by 2020, according to the IT trade body Nasscom. And that is the one of the biggest challenges for cybersecurity firms like Aujas.

“Attracting and retaining talent is going to be a big challenge in this space,” said Mr. Rao. “Unlike traditional software [industry] where you have huge [talent] pool... there is a scarcity here.”

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 8:18:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/start-up-aujas-networks-shields-aadhaar-from-hackers/article22920082.ece

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