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Data in safe hands

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It is always good to be in control of the documents that one sends associates, sources or even friends. Imagine, if one can manage the documents remotely for “purpose, time and access” so that the information in them is for the intended user only, and there is no chance of leakage.

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Data in safe hands

  1. 1. Home > News > Corporate ABPABPABP START UP 20 Aug, 2013 12:11 IST Data In Safe Hands Seclore helps, companies and countries, prevent proprietary data from going public Vishal Krishna Data In Safe Hands Information Sentinels: Abhijit Tannu and Vishal Gupta help remotely track documents (BW Pic by Umesh Goswami) It is always good to be in control of the documents that one sends associates, sources or even friends. Imagine, if one can manage the documents remotely for “purpose, time and access” so that the information in them is for the intended user only, and there is no chance of leakage.
  2. 2. Seclore, a five-year-old company, was set up with just such an aim — to have products that allow organisations to control their documents, data repositories and data that may be located in third-party applications such as enterprise resource planning systems. “During the BPO boom, a lot of bank information was sent to offshore centres. This data was customer information that could be used by anyone in an unknown country,” says Vishal Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Seclore, adding that the only protection available then against data theft was a liability contract. But this did not guarantee that information would be protected, and there was no technology monitoring document usage. “Every large organisation has many channels where data can be copied internally,” says Gupta. Seclore’s technology manages how proprietary information is sent across various channels, ranging from sales to finance departments. It allows the user to track how data is used. Not just that, the protected document vanishes after a specific time frame. “Seclore customised its FileSecure solution for Reliance Capital with features such as mandatory data classification. It helps us lock data with relevant rights and enforce and assign rights for view, print and copy,” says Murli Nambiar, vice-president and head of information security at Reliance Capital. The inspiration to make such a product came from a most unusual source. Street hawkers in the Fort area of Mumbai could provide access to anybody’s telephone number for a fee. Seclore founders Gupta and Abhijit Tannu realised that documents such as bills for mobile phones, cable TV and credit cards were handled by third-party firms whose data processing and security techniques could be compromised. “We decided to focus on financial services first and then expand to other industries,” says Gupta. SECLORE YEAR OF FOUNDING: 2008 WHAT IT DOES: Allows entities to control documents and data repositories located in third-party applications POTENTIAL: Increased outsorcing; the ‘bring your own device’ trend INVESTORS: $500,000 from an angel investor in 2009; $6 million from Helion Advisors in 2013 COMPETITORS: Fasoo, Boole, Watchdox, Giga Trust, among others REVENUES: Not disclosed The technology is sold on the basis of an enterprise’s requirement, possibly on an on-premise or a hosted pay-as-you-go model. Seclore earns through annual maintenance fees or from a per-user model.
  3. 3. “With device proliferation, for different marketing channels there is a case for data protection and monitoring,” says Tannu, chief technology officer, Seclore. A patent for the technology is awaited, he adds. Their customers include not only companies but also 20 countries; for one Asian nation, Seclore’s product protects its national security systems. “We are dependent on different business providers to process our customer information,” says Vishal Salvi, head of information security function at HDFC Bank, which uses Seclore’s services. “We still want to control how that information is used and processed by service providers.” “The expiry date feature is very exciting, especially when I share documents with outsides like vendors. The documents automatically lock themselves after a certain date,” says P.V. Shrungarkar, head of IT at L&T’s electrical and electronics division. “Among all the evaluated solutions, Seclore FileSecure provided us with maximum flexibility and integration capabilities,” says Maulik Desai, senior manager at Asian Paints. Today, over 4 million users across 400 enterprises use Seclore’s technology. But a decade ago, the founders’ aspirations were limited to experimenting with and taking the product to the market. Tannu graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 1994. While he was a chemical engineer, his interest lay in software coding (and in smashing the bird around badminton courts). He would study languages like Java and J2EE in his spare time and, in a couple of years, switched to the software industry where he worked with the likes of Patni and L&T. In 2000, he met Gupta, who had just graduated in electrical engineering from IIT Bombay. After a brainstorming session about technology that could be scaled globally, they decided to build a software that could study and identify patterns in enterprise data. They founded Herald Logic, and exited it in 2007. Then, in 2008, they set up Seclore at IIT Bombay, which has a 10 per cent stake in the startup. They attracted investors, but since the business was able to generate cash by 2010, the founders never sought funds, apart from an angel round in 2009. The need for more funds arose when they decided to go global and expand to new markets. Helion Advisors invested $6 million in Seclore in 2013. The funds will be used to increase marketing in the US.
  4. 4. What Helion found interesting in Seclore was that it had a marque customer base; a product that addressed a growing market need (fuelled by the trend of ‘bring your own device’); and a team that had a mix of product development and sales skills. “With very little resource but tonnes of entrepreneurial spirit, the team has achieved something that many others would struggle with, and would use far more resources,” says Rahul Chandra, MD of Helion Advisors. Often a technology is differentiated by its ability to integrate with most off-the-shelf as well as unique applications. “(Seclore’s) product is designed to simplify the policy rules applied to information sharing,” says Chandra. The startup’s 85-member team is now working to build new ways to protect data transfers in a corporation. But it is not the only one doing so; companies such as Fasoo, Boole, Watchdox, Giga Trust, among others, are doing the same. “We were able to convince investors because there are so many companies outsourcing document management to third parties. We cannot change the world, but we can find solutions to existing problems,” says Gupta. vishal.krishna@abp.in vishalkrishna@gmail.com Twitter: @vishalkrishna (This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 09-09-2013) - See more at: http://www.businessworld.in/news/corporate/data-in-safe-hands/1039715/page- 0.html#sthash.oOQoReCu.dpuf

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