Dr Harsha – Plugging leaks in the IT space to secure data
Computer security is not just limited to preventing virus from affecting your data. It involves finding vulnerabilities and loopholes in the software and the way a system is configured. The risk increases manifold if the system is a part of a network and the magnitude of damage done to it depends on the kind of data stored and the transaction carried out through the network. To counter these challenges, Dr. Thennarasu E (Harsha) started Hare Krishna IT (HKIT) Solutions, a company to provide security awareness and auditing in the field of computers.
Born in a middle class family in the city of Gudiyatam in Tamil Nadu, Dr. Harsha was the only one among his siblings who went on to pursue higher education. He started his career as a faculty with Aptech Computer Education. “The business was quite low; only four students joined us at that time. As a faculty, I went on a house to house campaign and increased the number of students to over 30 in each batch. There was a time when parents would enroll students only if I was taking the class and the students increased to over 500 in the centre,” recollects Dr. Harsha.
Looking at his dedication, the management at Aptech made him the head of the centre he was teaching at. Soon after this, Dr. Harsha got married and moved to Bangalore. Dr. Harsha worked with various organizations like Texport Overseas, ISKCON & Akshaya Patra. He says it was while heading the IT department at ISKCON, his real learning started.
“My tenure in ISKCON gave me an opportunity to invent, explore and work on budgeted IT infrastructure, getting the organization globalised, and getting excellent video screening of the lord. My knowledge gave me confidence to work harder and I successfully completed my PhD in Information Security & Cyber Crime in 2012, while working there,” says Dr Harsha.
Dr. Harsha sensed an opportunity in the demand in IT security, and quit his job to start HKIT. By this time he already had over 19 years of experience in various positions and it came very handy in his new startup. At present, there is a team of four PhD researchers who conduct audits and around 20 consultants who help them in marketing. Like any other startup, they had their own set of challenges.
“The pain areas were in the marketing front like getting introduced to a new client, and taking it forward. After six months we got a breakthrough for a preliminary IT audit for an overseas company which gave us confidence to take this domain forward. We could complete four successful audits for the year and could achieve 50 lac turnover in the first year of starting up,” adds Dr. Harsha.
HKIT identifies vulnerabilities on the client systems by conducting onsite penetration testing. In other words, they go to a site and try to hack their network after prior approval from the client. Once they identify the vulnerabilities, they suggest changes to strengthen the network to make it safe. The risks of data theft have increased a lot especially after the introduction of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept in the corporate world.
Talking about the risks, Dr. Harsha says, “Every minute, approx 4,500 attacks/ phishing /hacking attempts take place across the globe, and most of these cyber threats emerge from Asia. Just the way financial audits are important for organizations, so should IT security audit be mandatory in order to safeguard business and assets.”
Since they started in 2012, they have been growing at 100% year on year and have bagged around 25 Indian and three clients overseas. Dr. Harsha says the biggest thing he has learnt in his journey is to be honest with his clients. “The rewards for honesty cannot be counted.”