When Ishay Tentser, Co-Founder and CEO of Initech, agreed to an interview, Safety Detective’s Aviva Zacks jumped at the opportunity. She found out what Initech is doing to get the elderly connected safely.
Safety Detective: Where did you get your start in cybersecurity?
Ishay Tentser: My co-founder, Igor Gassko, and I met in Hebrew University in Jerusalem while studying computer science. We were in program that is paid for by the Israeli army and then requires that you serve as an officer in the profession that you gained from the university. We served in the computer unit of the Israel army, cybersecurity threats were considered dangerous even then, but technologies and threats were different from what we are using and facing today.
We were both discharged after six years of army service and proceeded to establish a startup called YourStory. YourStory was a collaborative platform that allowed different writers to engage with each other on writing stories. We built something similar to Google Docs, but with more structured engagement, which allowed the people to collaboratively work on writing tasks.
SD: How did you get Initech started?
IT: In 2010, we started Initech as a service company that provides software development services because it was what we had a lot of experience with, both from the army and from YourStory, where we built our own platform. Initech employs a small team of people that worked with us at YourStory and some others we met while serving in the army.
In 2010, the focus was on cloud solutions on the web because we were in the middle of a cloud revolution. Everybody wanted to use the cloud to establish not only a simple site, but some complex solutions to make an SaaS product.
We started to work with open source technologies for different organizations, and we began to see that the cloud solutions in those days were not very secure. It was just the beginning and people were less aware of the security of cloud solutions and of the platforms. They hadn’t used any significant tools to protect themselves.
We began to add security levels to our products and services. When you plan to build a new tool or a new platform, you need to think about the security and the different risks, and you need to do some sort of risk mitigation, so we began to get more focused on security. We focused on the cloud and it’s become our expertise and focus in our development services. This differentiated us from other competition in the market.
SD: What are the worst threats in cyberspace?
IT: Currently there are several different threats in cyberspace. One of the worst ones affects companies’ servers and extracting data from there. When we’re speaking about code that runs in the browser, cryptomining is popular enough, and there are also newer threats that try to lure users to malicious sites or even still sensitive data right from the memory of their computers. The implications of such threats are very serious.
SD: What about IoT? Is it secure?
IT: Most of our homes are becoming smart homes. We use different IoT devices in our homes—from Alexa or Google Home to security cameras and smart devices in the kitchen. Each IoT device has a connection to WiFi, and in some cases to Bluetooth, and can store data about what’s going on in our home. Each device might become an entry point for hackers—a way to penetrate our internal WiFi network and even install spy software on IoT devices and computers. Also, we think of our internal network as secure because we use a password and different security protocols. Most people today won’t look at their online bank accounts at a cafe because it’s unsecured, so they wait until they are home. But in many cases, homes might become not a very secure place because IoT devices can be easily penetrated, and people can access your network without hacking your WiFi passwords.
IoT security threats are divided into several categories. One of the ways is that hackers hack into one of your devices and start controlling it and using it as an open door to your network. Another threat is that the hacker doesn’t directly control the device but rather steals user account from it that can be used to steal user data from cloud directly.
SD: Is your company working on securing everything in the home?
IT: Yes. Some of our customers provide digital health tracking devices. So, we protect the device itself and the connection of the device to the cloud.
SD: Can you give me an example of the kind of device that you’re talking about?
IT: We’re working on a project that provides a special smart set-top box for a TV. The users are older people who have a hard time using Alexa or Google Home because the interface is not very intuitive for them. So, we’re working on a project that builds a very unique approach of the interface, to provide elderly people more communication, more data, more services, more games, and better protection.
Unfortunately, this can invite a lot of security threats. For example, access to sensitive medical data, planned activities, care takers, etc. So, we need to find the balance between being too secure and providing a reasonable range of security awareness for people who are not very aware of the security.
SD: Can you tell me about Initech’s privacy management services?
IT: Data security is not only about security management, but also privacy management, and there’s a big difference between them. When we think about security, we think about threats like viruses made by people who want to hurt us. But when we speak about privacy, it’s about protecting our information from the companies that provide us a service. For example, when I shop online, use dating sites or virtual assistants, I don’t want the data related to my personal life to be shared with 3rd parties or event be freely available to the employees of the service provider without my consent.
Another example is when you own a business and have employees; employees share very private information with you on their applications—information about themselves, their family, and their financial situation. We want to protect this information and have the option to review who has access to this information.
SD: How do you see cybersecurity developing in the next few years?
IT: Certainly, cloud and IoT security will continue to be a hot topic, which is why security and privacy must be integrated into the design and development of any new digital product on the market.