Home / Specials / Enterprise /  Cyber security is seen as added expense: Saket Modi

Fearing low grades in his chemistry exam, a young Saket Modi had broken into his school’s computer to steal a test paper. Now he is 23 years old and continues to hack for a living, but to protect companies from security breaches. In 2012, he co-founded cyber security firm Lucideus Tech Pvt. Ltd that does ethical hacking for some of the leading banking and financial services firms, technology companies and even the Indian government. Unlike other firms that either offer consultancy and solutions for cyber security to companies or train people, Modi in an interview said Lucideus offers consultancy as well as online and mobile security products, two of which have been patented. His firm is also starting a one-year diploma course on cyber security. The start-up’s immediate plans include setting up offices outside India and raising about $10 million from a venture capital investor. Edited excerpts:

What is your revenue model?

We are a self-funded start-up and we broke even in September 2013. We are seeing revenue growth of 200% year-on-year. Our revenue prominently comes from our annual security scan contracts, where our automated bots scan a client’s systems on daily basis and on manual basis every 15 days, and a report is generated every month. We give cyber security training to the clients’ staff every month. The academia is another revenue stream.

Where does India stand when it comes to cyber security?

The cyber security policy of India was launched in July 2013. It says India requires 500,000 cyber security experts, for which we will need 5,000 specialists to train and mentor. We don’t have those experts. You will not find more than 500 authentic names that have the right and clean background to teach cyber security.

Do we realize the threat at a larger level?

Cyber security is still the long pole in the tent. It is still like this for four out of five companies here. They consider spending money on cyber security as an added burden, as an extra expenditure rather than understanding how crucial it is. They don’t realize it can lead to not just monetary loses, but also reputational losses. Canada’s largest ever telecom company Nortel was once a C$400 billion firm, it is now bankrupt. The reason why this happened is because their entire system—from the chief executive officer’s emails to every employee’s mails—were compromised for two years. Every email they sent, every tender they would bid for was being monitored by people sitting in Russia and China. They continuously lost every bid they made, every single R&D (research and development) activity that they did before it was launched was copied by others.

Who are your clients?

We cannot give any names, but what I can tell you is that our clients include the country’s top prominent banks, financial institutions and e-commerce firms. We sign a non-disclosure agreement when signing contracts. The reason is that our servers are attacked nearly 300 times a day. When we say we are a cyber security organization, there is a whole clan of people waiting there to take us down. So if we go out and reveal the names of our clients, their servers automatically become a target for such groups.

What are your future plans? There is a lot of consolidation in the cyber security space with firms such as Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp. and Google Inc. acquiring start-ups in this space.

We want to make Lucideus a Fortune 500 company. We can’t make it to the list if we get acquired, so M&A (mergers and acquisitions) is not on the cards. Before the end of 2014, we want to be in the US, Dubai and Singapore. Next in line are Germany and Australia. We already have a few channel partners in place and we are pushing our sales through them.

How will you enter the global markets?

I am looking for a VC (venture capital) investor with a deep connection in the technology space of the US. What I am looking for is a substantial value add from the investor in terms of facilitating Lucideus with opening doors through referrals and connections. Today, my delivery mechanisms are in place, all I need is a 500 sq. ft office in a Times Square. About $10 million should work well for us right now.

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