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BW Businessworld

We Believe In The India Growth Story: Cloudflare India Head

In a conversation with BW Businessworld’s Rohit Chintapali, Samuel Sathyajith (Head of India & SAARC Region, Cloudflare) spoke on cybersecurity trends in India, the contentious Kiwi Farms issue and Cloudflare’s India chapter.

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Samuel Sathyajith, Head of India & SAARC Region, Cloudflare

In a conversation with BW Businessworld’s Rohit Chintapali, Samuel Sathyajith (Head of India & SAARC Region, Cloudflare) spoke on cybersecurity trends in India, the contentious Kiwi Farms issue and Cloudflare’s India chapter.

Excerpts:

Threat actors seem to be always a step ahead of the cybersecurity experts. Is this always true?

There's always a race between the good and bad. But I wouldn't say that the threat actors are always ahead of the game. The results sometimes might show that, but that’s not because the threat actors are ahead in technology. There is continuous innovation at Cloudflare to anticipate threats and identify vulnerabilities. So, we act ahead of the game in comparison to the threat actors. We have millions of customers and protect one-fifth of the internet.

What kind of cybersecurity trends are prevalent in India specifically?

Geographical boundaries do not exist in the internet world. An attacker could be placed anywhere and compromise host located elsewhere. But if you look at Asia-Pacific figures in terms of the targeted nations, Singapore tops the list in Cloudflare Q3 report. Coming to India, what we have seen is that there have been a host of compromised devices and a lack of knowledge and awareness in the country. This means that these resources here are being used to generate attacks. Considering that India has really taken to smartphones, one of the biggest things we observe is that people are complaining about the phishing attacks and email attacks more.

There was a lot of talk around Kiwi Farms and Cloudflare. Considering the amount of evidence which was available, why did it take Cloudflare so much of time to block the website?

It was a tough decision for us to do it. But let’s look at it from a policy perspective. We are an infrastructure provider and we are compliant to the regulations across the globe. There are agencies and governments, who are providing those compliances and enforcing those. But as an infrastructure provider, we are neutral and this is critical for the internet. Our mission statement is basically to help build better internet.

We are very much down the stack. Our job is to follow the rule of the law. It's very important. But it is also important to think about the consequences of taking an action. It's one thing to say that you could have done this, but what are the consequences? When we terminate a website, we remove the website from the internet.

People could ask, there are appropriate authorities to do this in every nation. Cloudflare as a policy thinks that authority should not be vested. We don't want to exercise that and misuse our capabilities. We had to go ahead with blocking Kiwi Farms as it was not just the question of cyber threat, it was real life at stake. 

So you would much prefer if the law enforcement takes action rather than your platform?

Absolutely. There are law authorities and government regulatory bodies. They are the ones who should take appropriate action and pick who's in the wrong. That’s the policy we have always advocated. 

Could you tell us about Cloudflare’s presence in India? 

I joined Cloudflare at the height of the pandemic with the charter to build the team in India and grow the business in the country. We started the team in India and registered here. As a global cloud platform, it's important for us to be present closer to the origin of the service. Our data centres and point-of-presence (PoP) are present across the globe in more than 275 cities.

In India, it's more than 23 and growing. We have grown four-fold in terms of the capacity of these presences as well as the bandwidth since I've joined. Coming to the team size, we are close to 50 people supporting Indian operations. We are spread across India. 

Our partners in India today include digital natives to startups, some large enterprises and even a few government organisations. We have grown the customer base by 10x in two years. We have grown the network and team size 4x in the same duration. It's an exciting time to be part of Cloudflare and leading a team here.

Do you have any particular plans for the next two years in India?

We will continue to see infrastructure investments in security and we continue to invest in the region, both in terms of their people and infrastructure. And we will continue to support the large diaspora of our customers including banks, FinTechs, EdTechs – across the spectrum. India is a growth story that we believe in and we continue to invest despite the headwinds


Also Read: India Second Largest Source Of HTTP DDoS Attacks In Q3 2022: Report


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