Interview with Pankit Desai, co-founder and CEO of Sequretek

We speak to Pankit Desai, co-founder and CEO of ICE71 Scale start-up Sequretek, one of the Financial Times’ most promising APAC companiesand more recently a RAISE2020 awardeeabout what it takes to get to such business apexes.


Q: What do you do at Sequretek?

I am co-founder and CEO at Sequretek, with primary responsibilities around business development, operations and fundraising. Prior to Sequretek, I have had leadership stints with IBM, Intelligroup, NTT Data for over two decades.

Sequretek offers solutions in Endpoint Detection Protection and Response (EDPR), Identity Governance and Administration (IGA), and Managed Detection and Response (MDR). A combination of our products and a 24×7 managed security services, covers majority of the problems that an enterprise might encounter.

Q: Can you share an example or two where Sequretek has helped your client to achieve simplicity in terms of security? 

Let me take two examples on opposing ends of a size spectrum.

One of the largest private sector bank (5,000+ branches) with over 125,000 employees and 700+ applications/services was struggling to get an answer to this question of “who has access to what”? They tried implementing traditional identity management solutions, but after spending a few million dollars and over two years, their coverage was barely 5% of the technology landscape. They evaluated Sequretek’s IGA and they were able to implement the product in six months and have covered more than 50% of the technology landscape, with balance being targeted for completion within the year. Their compliance organization which used to scramble resources every year before the regulatory audit or User Access Review requirements, now is able to get all of it done through a simple dashboard report.

India is home to over 1,500 co-operative banks. Most of these banks are in the rural areas and serve the farmers and poor people. These banks have been the backbone through which most of the government schemes for underprivileged get distributed. Over the past few years, these banks have invested in technologies to stay abreast of the transformation that is impacting the sector, and with it there have been several high profile cyber breaches. There is now significant pressure from the local regulator to invest in security to mitigate the risks. Most of these banks, lack skillset to understand what security measures they need to undertake to improve their security. We worked with their industry body to create a program that build a security framework around offerings that allowed these banks to improve their compliance and security posture without burning a hole in their pocket. The program had several technology awareness sessions, across the hierarchy, that were baked in to improve their appreciation of technology, till date over 1,000 people have undergone this training.

Q. Sequretek was rated as one of APAC’s fastest growing companies by the Financial Times for 2020. Congratulations! Can you share with us what got you here today, perhaps your business mantra for aspiring cybersecurity entrepreneurs?

Early this year Financial Times picked us as one of the fastest growing companies (#206/500) in APAC and just very recently, we were recognized as a winner in the category of tech centric companies sector agnostic applicability, at RAISE2020 a global AI event hosted by the government of India. While the first one was all about the financial success of the company, the second is a vote of confidence on our technology and ability to execute in the marketplace.

As an entrepreneur, it is indeed quite redeeming to see the company get to where it is today. While it may sound cliched, our mantra has always been “do right by your customer” and the rest will follow. We have put that thought process into practice and I am proud to see our customers’ stand by us through thick or thin. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, or how good of a team you have built for yourself, if you are not in a position to get a happy customer, it will not get you anywhere. As a company, we have barely spend any money in marketing, it is customer referrals that have allowed us to scale year on year.

Q: How is the cybersecurity sector like in India and Singapore, are opportunities and challenges the same? What are prospects you see in Singapore and the greater APAC region?

For most part cybersecurity in industry and geography agnostic, this has allowed most companies in this space therefore to scale without much requirements for localization as compared to some of the other technology areas. Having said that, there are nuances from a tech maturity levels perspective and local regulatory norms, that may change how customers in different parts of the world perceive the need for security. In India, you will find companies at the top end of the spectrum who have used technology to differentiate themselves at global scale and are understandably quite ahead in their security journey. On the other hand there are millions of small and medium enterprises for whom security is almost an alien concept, which is where most of the recent attacks are concentrated.

If I was to look at APAC region, one will find companies in Singapore for most part will be well versed in technology usage and a much better appreciation for the need in investing in cybersecurity. However, there are countries in south east Asia that are not at the same level, and the challenges that I mentioned earlier will definitely be present. I see our message of “Simplify Security” resonate across the region, for this very reason.

Q: Describe cybersecurity in less than 30 words.

Cybersecurity is an enabler to your transformation and not an inhibitor.

ICE71 start-up news roundup

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More news on ICE71 and our startups here.

ICE71 start-up news roundup

Here’s the latest news roundup on our ICE71 startups:

More news on ICE71 and our startups here.

ICE71 start-up news roundup

Here’s the latest news roundup on our ICE71 startups:

More news on ICE71 and our startups here.

ICE71 start-up news roundup

Here’s the latest news roundup on our ICE71 startups:

More news on ICE71 and our startups here.

COVID-19: Productivity at the cost of security


In the RSA Conference APJ 2020 session “Getting the security and flexibility balance right in a COVID-19 world”, Magda Chelly, co-founder of Responsible Cyber shared her insights around digital transformation and security risk considerations in current times.

It’s ultimately about productivity
Improved and continuous productivity is a key driver of digital transformation for companies. It is less about regulatory or cybersecurity reasons. “In terms of APAC, I noticed that digital transformation adopted by companies are very much related to a sense of speed, to allow productivity to continue for employees.”

Amid COVID-19, health measures around the world have made remote work a necessity rather than an option. This need in turn pushes for digital transformation for many companies.

The perimeter is dead: Security without boundaries
With COVID-19 accelerating digital transformation, enabling employees to work from anywhere, cybersecurity risks are emerging with increasing prevalence of cyber attacks due to this flexibility of working.

There are COVID-19-themed attacks (link) in the form of phishing, malware and others, all of which exploit what makes us human, and contribute to an increased number of enterprise attack vectors. “As usual, the weakest link is the human factor,” Magda shared. Human fallibility remains to be the enemy of control, especially with phishing attacks.

On endpoint management, she cautions that companies might still be exposed to different risk scenarios. She cited an example on passwords. “We have seen new policies that passwords should not rotate, for example, but if your employees are working from home, and eventually working from their own devices, they are using those devices to perform business activities. They might be using
the same password for their social media and corporate accounts.”

And there are other unpredictable risk scenarios. Besides their own home WiFi, employees could be on insecure and uncontrolled networks in quarantining hotels, and VPNs may not work here. They might also have technical difficulties with work email and end up using their personal email, another bane of security.

New approaches to security
Magda urges cybersecurity professionals and leaders to go out of their comfort zone and adopt a data-driven mindset when it comes to assessing emerging cyber risks. “Have your 3, 5, 10 new emerging cyber risk scenarios, and then quantify them.” She recommends cross-collaboration with other business teams like IT and compliance to uncover factors for quantifying data, particularly those that make sense and matter to stakeholders.

When it comes to cyber resilience and awareness building, cybersecurity professionals need to increase their visibility and reachability within the business, not just through traditional means of communication like newsletters which can seem distant.

And as they say, the perimeter is dead. The future of security lies in a non-perimeter-based approach – and zero trust, which places users at the centre of the security strategy.

Magda is a thought leader and frequent speaker at cybersecurity forums and events. She is a valuable member of the ICE71 community, and her start-up Responsible Cyber is both an ICE71 Accelerate alum and an ICE71 Scale company.

ICE71 is a proud community partner of RSA Conference APJ 2020. Watch conference content on demand here.

ICE71 start-up news roundup

Here’s the latest news roundup on our ICE71 startups:

More news on ICE71 and our startups here.

ICE71 startup news roundup

Here’s the latest news roundup on our ICE71 startups:

More news on ICE71 and our startups here.

ICE71 startup news roundup

Here’s the latest news roundup on our ICE71 startups:

More news on ICE71 and our startups here.

ICE71 Accelerate alumni in the news!

Did you know that our ICE71 Accelerate past cohort alums have been making waves in the news? These include:

..and many more!

Meet the cohort 4 startups! Watch Demo Day at https://www.accelerate4-demoday.ice71.sg/