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TCE Exclusive: Zakir Hussain On Building Strong Relationships In Cybersecurity – The Cyber Express

In this interview with The Cyber Express, Rangwala shares pivotal insights on cybersecurity dynamics, leadership strategies, and the future of digital security.

by Editorial June 25th, 2024

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Meet Zakir Hussain Rangwala, CEO of BD Software Distribution Pvt. Ltd., a seasoned expert with over two decades in the IT and cybersecurity realms. His journey spans from navigating traditional virus protections to spearheading AI-driven defence strategies against today’s sophisticated cyber threats. In this interview with The Cyber Express, Rangwala shares pivotal insights on cybersecurity dynamics, leadership strategies, and the future of digital security.

Zakir Hussain Interview Excerpts

TCE: With over 20 years of experience in the IT and cybersecurity industry, you must have seen many changes. What significant shifts in cybersecurity threats and defences have you witnessed over the years, and how have these changes impacted your approach to securing digital environments?

Zakir Hussain: Over the past two decades, cybersecurity has evolved significantly from basic virus and malware defences to tackling advanced threats such as ransomware, nation-state attacks, and zero-day exploits. Initially centered on perimeter defences, the shift is now towards zero-trust models and sophisticated threat detection. The proliferation of cloud computing, IoT, and remote work has widened attack surfaces, requiring continuous monitoring and AI-driven analytics.

Today, effective cybersecurity demands a proactive, layered approach that incorporates real-time threat intelligence, ongoing user education, and resilient defence mechanisms. This holistic strategy is essential to safeguarding complex digital environments against evolving cyber threats.

TCE: Given your extensive expertise in antivirus and security solutions, what do you believe are the most critical features that a security solution should offer to effectively protect against today’s sophisticated threat landscape? Are there any particular technologies or strategies that you consider indispensable?

Zakir Hussain: In the current complex threat environment, an effective security solution must encompass several critical features: real-time threat detection, AI-driven analytics, and thorough endpoint protection. Zero Trust Architecture is essential, enforcing rigorous identity verification for all access attempts. Behavioural analysis plays a pivotal role in detecting anomalies in user and network behaviours. Robust encryption protocols secure data both in storage and transit.

Automated incident response capabilities facilitate rapid mitigation of breaches. Integration of threat intelligence ensures defences stay ahead of emerging threats. Moreover, ongoing user education and frequent security assessments are indispensable for maintaining a strong security posture amidst continuous digital advancements.

TCE: Educating and convincing distributors and partners about the importance of advanced cybersecurity measures can be challenging. How do you approach this task, and what strategies have proven most effective in gaining their buy-in and ensuring they understand the critical nature of robust cybersecurity?

Zakir Hussain: Educating and convincing distributors and partners about advanced cybersecurity requires a multifaceted strategy. We provide interactive training sessions focusing on real-world cyber threats and their implications. Use case studies to illustrate the consequences of inadequate security. We provide educations to demonstrate the long-term benefits of cybersecurity investments.

Foster open communication and provide ongoing support to address concerns. Implement pilot programs to showcase the effectiveness of advanced measures. Building a collaborative relationship based on shared responsibility is crucial for gaining their buy-in and commitment to enhancing cybersecurity practices. Marketing assistance, including co-branded materials and campaigns, aids partners in effectively showcasing our solutions.

TCE: Emerging technologies like AI and machine learning are increasingly becoming part of the cybersecurity landscape. In your opinion, what role do these technologies play in the future of cybersecurity, and how can they be leveraged to enhance threat detection and response capabilities?

Zakir Hussain: AI and machine learning are transformative in cybersecurity, revolutionizing threat detection and response capabilities. By analyzing vast datasets in real time, they identify patterns and anomalies that signal cyber threats. Machine learning models adapt to new attack vectors, enhancing accuracy in threat prediction and prevention.

AI automates response actions swiftly, mitigating risks faster than manual methods. These technologies also bolster user behaviour analytics, pinpointing insider threats and minimizing false alarms. Leveraging AI and machine learning enables organizations to adopt a proactive, resilient defence stance against evolving and sophisticated cyber threats.

TCE: With the proliferation of digital downloads and online services, ensuring their security is paramount. What specific measures do you recommend for safeguarding these platforms against cyber threats, and how can organizations implement these measures effectively?

Zakir Hussain: To protect digital downloads and online services, organizations must prioritize secure coding practices, routine code reviews, and vulnerability assessments. Strong encryption for data in transit and at rest, coupled with multi-factor authentication (MFA), is essential to thwart unauthorized access. Regular updates and comprehensive patch management are vital to maintain system security.

Web application firewalls (WAFs) should be deployed to defend against common threats such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting. Continuous threat monitoring and a well-defined incident response plan are critical for timely threat mitigation. Effective implementation requires ongoing staff training, strict adherence to security policies, and regular system audits to ensure robust protection.

TCE: What initially motivated you to enter the field of IT and cybersecurity, and how has your passion for this field evolved over the years? Are there any pivotal moments or experiences that particularly influenced your career path?

Zakir Hussain: I was initially drawn to IT and cybersecurity by a fascination with technology’s transformative potential and a desire to solve complex puzzles. Over the years, my passion has evolved through hands-on experience, witnessing the critical importance of safeguarding digital infrastructures and data against evolving threats.

Pivotal moments include encountering real-world cyber incidents that underscored the impact of security breaches, and collaborating with diverse teams globally, which broadened my perspective on international cybersecurity challenges. These experiences continue to fuel my commitment to advancing security measures and promoting resilient digital environments in an increasingly interconnected world.

TCE: As a team leader, how do you keep your team motivated and informed about the latest developments in cybersecurity? What strategies do you use to foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability within your team?

Zakir Hussain: As a team leader in cybersecurity, I prioritize motivation and continuous learning by fostering an environment where knowledge sharing and professional development are central. Regular team meetings and online sessions keep everyone informed about the latest cybersecurity developments and trends. Encouraging participation in industry conferences, webinars, and certification programs ensures ongoing skill enhancement.

I promote a culture of adaptability by encouraging experimentation with new tools and techniques, emphasizing learning from both successes and challenges. Recognizing and celebrating achievements further boosts morale, reinforcing the team’s dedication to staying at the forefront of cybersecurity practices.

TCE: In light of your extensive experience with distributors and channel partners, what advice would you give to someone looking to build strong, effective relationships within the cybersecurity industry? How can these relationships be leveraged to enhance cybersecurity efforts?

Zakir Hussain: Establishing robust relationships with distributors and channel partners in cybersecurity hinges on trust, communication, and mutual benefit. Take the time to comprehend their business objectives and obstacles.

Assist with training, marketing tools, and joint sales initiatives. Collaborate closely on customer deployments and incident responses. Regularly exchange insights on emerging threats and industry trends to foster a proactive alliance. By aligning goals and leveraging respective strengths, these partnerships can bolster cybersecurity efforts, enabling broader market reach, quicker response capabilities, and more enhanced solutions that address the evolving demands of customers effectively.

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