We talked to Koryak UZAN, Managing Partner at PRODAFT about cybersecurity and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your circle doing in these COVID-19 times?
Koryak UZAN: Thanks for asking. Fortunately, our entire team, as well as their families, have managed to get through these tough times without any major health issues. Professionally, of course, it was a little tough to cope with the psychological effects of lockdown as a team. Yet, following the initial learning curve, we have successfully implemented several different substitute systems and methods to overcome our professional, social, and even psychological needs.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded PRODAFT.
Koryak UZAN: As the initial 3 co-founders of PRODAFT, we had known each other for a very long time, even before starting the company. Cyber Security was a hobby, a never-ending interest for us, rather than a career goal since our teenage years. We were doing what we are doing right now in our individual paths. Then, following his Grand Championship in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Cybercrime Forensics Challenge in 2011, our CEO, Can YILDIZLI has shared his plans for establishing a new cybersecurity company with us. It was a golden ticket for all, as we were all a highly-technical, security-oriented group of friends who believed in the same values. It was a perfect fit as everybody was covering a different ground in the same domain. Since that day, we still do our best to preserve the same initial spirit.
How does PRODAFT innovate?
Koryak UZAN: In 2012, our approach towards cybersecurity was different from the conventional solutions of that time. Everybody was still fixating on “defensive” solutions such as firewalls, SIEM (Event and Incident Managers), Data Loss Prevention Tools, etc.
Yet, we believed in the power of intelligence. We wanted to create something that will provide valuable information about the upcoming, potential, future attacks. This has led us to be one of the first “threat intelligence” companies across the globe. We wanted to provide our clients with the chance to be truly “proactive.” In order to achieve such a goal, our first mission was to come up with different means and methods to acquire threat information from the platforms of treat actors (cybercriminals, cyber fraudsters, etc.). At that point, we have developed our award-winning “Deep Web Sensors” technology that can be used to crawl, detect and filter relevant future threats towards our clients.
This approach is even marked in our Company name. PRODAFT is an abbreviation of Proactive Defense Against Future Threats. Today, we serve dozens of banks, aviation companies, huge e-commerce vendors, public institutions, and other critical infrastructures through the same perspective.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Koryak UZAN: To be honest, the only solid effect of the pandemic on our financial status was the fact that we had to postpone our expansion plans towards different countries for a term of 6 months to a year. Other than that, as the Pandemic has also resulted in a huge increase in both cyber-crime and cyber fraud trends, the need for our solutions has never dropped but increased significantly.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Koryak UZAN: It was a very good chance for us to focus on human resources. During the term, we have managed to increase our technical engineering personnel by 20 percent.
As I’ve mentioned before, we have not been affected structurally or financially by the pandemic greatly, as our operation was already transformed towards a more virtual / online structure due to the fact that we are expected to be online and responsive on a 24/7 basis.
Yet, the lockdown was a very good chance for us to reach out to the community and re-evaluate the applications for our company. We have started organizing virtual cybersecurity events, which have been participated by hundreds of thousands of people. These events served greatly, especially in terms of introducing our company to multiple young and talented individuals. Therefore, the Pandemic has made us stronger than ever. We are very positive about the post-COVID-19 future.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Koryak UZAN: I can’t say it evolved very much, as we were already using multiple private tools and systems to constantly keep in touch with our customers. Our solutions themselves are reinforced with different communication channels between our clients and us. Additionally, we had always been online with each and every customer regardless of the Pandemic.
Yet, I think the Pandemic has acted as a tool for reminding the people of what they can achieve if they are able to focus on their respective tasks without the usual everyday distractions of corporate life. I can see that most of our customers have become more focused, demanding, and diligent towards security during these times.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Koryak UZAN: No, we didn’t, and I think we shouldn’t, as our operation is highly online and virtual in nature. Therefore, I hope people and businesses which are more vulnerable to pandemic by their nature (restaurants, cafés, malls, etc.) should be supported a lot more than tech companies like us.
Your final thoughts?
Koryak UZAN: The pandemic was something that none of us were prepared for. It created different challenges for all of us. Our challenge was to cope with the immensely increasing cyber-crime trends during this period, which we managed to successfully overcome.
This whole thing is a very strong test for all directors and executives. The ones who manage to get through the other end of the tunnel will surely be stronger than ever. I wish good luck to everyone who tries to cope with their own challenges and fragile dynamics.
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