In Conversation with Sashank Dara, Cyber Security Technologist at Cisco
A “Non-Conformist” Cyber Security Technologist, Sashank has a proven track record as Innovator and been awarded numerous corporate awards for Security Advocacy and Innovation. He has extensive experience in Networking and Cyber Security. With more than a dozen research papers at IEEE, LNCS conferences, 5 US patents to his name and the most recent addition, pursuing PhD in the Cyber Security at IIIT-Bangalore, Sashank is one of the most passionate techie in the Cyber Security domain.
I interacted with Sashank after his session with Cisco launchPad startups on “Cyber Security Essentials for Startups’. We discussed his journey in one of the most important tech domains – Cyber Security.
Why you chose Cyber Security Domain as your tech area of expertise?
My passion for the cybersecurity domain actually started from college. There is a kick in this area of work. It’s like you have to outperform the unknown opponents. There is always a race to build new techniques and technology to outsmart them. You relentlessly strive to maintain an upper hand.
Though I was passionate about this field and learning, my true journey in this field began with Cisco. At Cisco, I became part of firewall and security management domain group. I was inspired by some of the senior tech talent, Distinguish and Principal Engineers at Cisco. They are the best in the field and have contributed immensely to this domain, in fact, they have literally created numerous cutting edge technologies. Fortunately, I got mentored by these role models and that fueled my journey in the field of cyber security.
What is the most interesting project you have worked on at Cisco?
Well, there were many interesting projects. The one that gives me rush even today is a recent tech fund project. It is a special project as the focus was on building customer’s trust and transparency in the new technologies we have created. Also, the project was related to Cryptography, which involves lots of math and many people consider it a complex domain of work.
The problem at hand was, as we move more and more towards virtualization, how we show the value to our customer in what we provide them? For example, initially when a customer bought a Firewall, IPS, or a router they would get a box. Now, with Cloud adoption, everything is virtual. Physical box provided some sort of reference to what Customers were getting for the money they paid, with Cloud that is not the case. As a technologist, how would you prove that all these virtual services are being inspected by us? That’s when we worked on Cryptographic algorithms and Protocols providing a mathematical proof to customers that the services they are paying for are efficiently being delivered. We ended up filing patents, working proof of concept and Internet Drafts for standardization with regards to this project.
The most exciting aspect for me these days is to simplify the whole process of securing the digital infrastructure and make it accessible to masses.
According to you, what is the significance of Security for large organizations and individuals?
Today, everything is connected. In a connected economy, everyone and everything is equally gullible. The attacks these days have a massive chain reaction. The attackers usually go after low hanging fruits to get the “trampoline effect” to establish the reachability to launch larger attacks. Lack of awareness, investments and basic measures make Startups, SME’s etc. easy targets. So, it is a myth that if you are a small organization, you are not on the radar for Cyber attackers. Also, the impact of any cyber-attack is experienced by literally everyone – from individual to large organizations. So, ensure that enough measures are taken to safeguard your infrastructure, your business, your Customers.
Twitter : Sashank
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Nice to hear about security as a career path and importance of security to cloud orgs from Sashank.
Earlier when I was part of Cisco, I had privilege of working with Sashank on IEEE papers. Excellent person to work with.