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DNIF: When Security Marries Analytics

Shomiron Dasgupta, Founder, Netmonastery talks about the benefits of his flagship DNIF platform and how and why it is witnessing increasing traction everywhere especially during the Corona crisis

 

What is the story behind the genesis of Netmonastery?

Netmonastery is a data security firm that helps businesses detect cyber threats and internal misuse leading to large-scale data theft through its big data analytics platform DNIF. We were set up at a time when cybersecurity was at a nascent stage. Some of the biggest challenges in becoming a cybersecurity product company then were around trust and credibility. There were hardly any cybersecurity product companies when Netmonastery was launched in 2002. The capability of Indian products was viewed with suspicion. Large international giants dominated the cybersecurity business and inducting new customers was a constant challenge for Netmonastery in its early days. The knowledge that a customer need was not being met motivated us to foray into the cybersecurity space.

Prior to establishing Netmonastery, I had worked for over five years as a consultant specializing in intrusion detection and analysis. Although we had a clear path to the desired solution our challenge was to build a product rather than the much easier service line. We spent eight months building the product as against what could be delivered by a group of engineers in the first three weeks.

How would you define the USPs of DNIF, the core offering from Netmonastery?

DNIF is the flagship product of Netmonastery, which has been building products in the cyber security space for the last 16 years. DNIF is a data platform that can collect, parse, enrich, index, balance, and analyze data in a continuously changing environment, helping enterprises take precautionary measures for cyber defence. It allows users to partition one data infrastructure and enable multiple teams to solve many challenges.

DNIF is a first-of-its-kind, next-gen SIEM solution with advanced security analytics and response automation. It is built on a big data analytics platform for real-time threat detection and response. It provides SOAR, UEBA, security analytics, threat hunting and security data lake solutions on a single platform to promote process efficiency, manageability and reduced risks.  DNIF brings a different approach to Big Data analytics. Its Dynamic Search capability allows us to free -form our approach rather than being limited by structure. Query directives bring out a refreshing way of solving problems.

DNIF solves the age-old problem of combining large-scale data collection and real-time analytics with a single-pane view for an entire network security infrastructure, security automation and response. In order to block different kinds of attacks at different levels, DNIF brings in all analytics tools together and connects the dots. Over the years, DNIF has been used in some of India’s most prestigious institutions.

What is the business model of the DNIF platform? How do you measure the security outcomes with your clients?

We are a product based company and our primary revenue model is the SAAS and Software License sale revenue. DNIF is offered to customers both as an on-premise / cloud hosted SAAS or as perpetual license software. Netmonastery, being a software product company, offers the DNIF platform, which is used either directly by customers to setup their captive SOC or by partners who offer the SOC as a managed service to customers.

Netmonastery actively collaborates with partners in building better threat detection strategies and we also offer this as a part of our Professional Services offering. However, the day-to-day operations of handling security incidents and monitoring are typically done by the SOC Services partners.

How do you help enterprises integrate analytics into their security solutions and how does it benefit them?

The prime beneficiaries of the product are mainly banks, financial institutions, the government, online and web commerce organizations. We have a vibrant partner network, also called the Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP who use our product platform to deliver Security Operations services to their customers. DNIF helps its customers use the power of big data and analytics to hunt for attacks across the infrastructure. DNIF is also able to uncover attacks that were otherwise undetectable, using off-the-shelf products.

What is the GTM strategy followed by Netmonastery for DNIF? How have you grown in the last one year?

DNIF is a partner-focused company and we offer the product via a network of distributors, partners and resellers. Depending on the customer segment, we have specialized partners who offer the solution. We also have a direct sales team, which focuses on large marquee clients who demand direct attention.

Our revenue and size have tripled over the last three years, and there has been an increase of around 35-40% in our profitability.

 

Which are the verticals witnessing maximum traction and who are some of the marquee use cases?

We have customers belonging to various segments and each one has a different value proposition from DNIF. We have onboarded some large and technologically mature customers in the banking and manufacturing space where the customers were looking at a flexible Big Data platform to perform high speed analytics and do proactive security monitoring. Today, DNIF serves several industries, including telecom players like Idea Cellular and Vodafone, banks like IndusInd, RBL Bank and Axis Bank; NBFCs, stock markets, insurance companies and B2B marketplaces.

We have also onboarded Managed Security Services partners who have built their SOC services offerings around the platform. These customers enjoy the capability to custom deploy the application very easily according to their customer requirements. These MSS partners typically work with SME clients and offer differentiated SOC offerings compared to competition.

We are seeing a great traction among partners who are targeting the government vertical, especially in India. With the Make in India initiative, a large number of government customers are looking at Indian cybersecurity products instead of MNC products.

What are DNIF’s differentiators vis-a-vis the established security solution leaders?

The cybersecurity industry is dominated by giants like IBM, RSA, HP, McAfee, and Symantec. The space is extremely dynamic with newer threats being discovered every week. In this scenario it is extremely difficult for an enterprise to trust a company like us with the responsibility of protecting their assets. We have worked very hard to gain market share. An analytics engine is the heart of a cybersecurity operation and it is difficult for a customer to trust you with this critical responsibility. Over the years we have proved ourselves in smaller deployments and then used customer references to break into the big stage. For over a decade and a half now, our fast analytics engines have created a niche among local and international competitors.

DNIF is built on the latest tech stack, so it offers a better product than its competitors, whose products were built between five and ten years ago. DNIF had the opportunity to transform into an open data lake product and serve a larger range of IT use cases. The product now has some of the largest customers to validate this story.  DNIF is moving much faster compared to its competitors, and is actively building next-generation technologies to meet the needs of its customers.

With businesses working remotely during the current COVID19 crisis, what are the security challenges that they can face? How does your solution help counter these challenges?

The COVID19 crisis is going to initiate a structural change in the way businesses operate. With the likelihood of similar episodes in the future appearing to be very probable, companies will have to design their day-to-day operations, keeping in mind such scenarios. The result would be a large amount of work that will need to spread geographically.

This will introduce a new set of challenges in designing IT systems and building the security layer on top of these. Security monitoring, which is already an integral part of security systems, will become more important. We are already seeing a major change in the way security operations run and this is going to further accelerate this change. It will increase the requirement of a flexible platform-based approach towards SIEM systems rather than packaged SIEM software.

What are going to be the key focus areas for the next 18-24 months?

Right now, we are focusing on scaling DNIF to cater to the mid-level segment. We know how the product scales for large customers and how it fits into the budget, delivery and serviceability aspects. We are in the process of understanding how these parameters can be effectively re-tuned for the mid-level segment.

We are also investing heavily in expanding our offerings to the international market. We are specifically looking at markets close to India in terms of the time zone and figuring out if we can replicate our success there as well.

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