Commodore (Dr.) Prem Chand: A Naval Officer Making His Mark Pioneering Indigenous Technologies For Military & Civil Applications | CEOInsights Vendor
Commodore (Dr.) Prem Chand: A Naval Officer Making His Mark Pioneering Indigenous Technologies For Military & Civil Applications

Commodore (Dr.) Prem Chand: A Naval Officer Making His Mark Pioneering Indigenous Technologies For Military & Civil Applications

Dr. Prem Chand,   Co-Founder & CEO

Dr. Prem Chand

Co-Founder & CEO

Securweave Research Labs by addressing the security and safety needs of the rapidly evolving digital world. Backed up by a cumulative technology experience of more than 90 years, Securweave was co-founded by Dr. Prem, CEO and Chief Strategist, Gopakumar Thekkedath, Chief Technology Officer, and Dinakar Medavaram, Chief Solution Architect.

Lend your ears to Prof. V Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, who aesthetically elucidates engagement with Securweave, "We have integrated Securweave's CHESS-P platform with Shakti's family of microprocessors. The combination of Shakti's hardware security features and the kernel-mode rootkit mitigation capabilities available in CHESS-P will provide users with holistic security. Though there are a few commercially available separation kernel / embedded hypervisors in the market, we zeroed in on CHESS-P due to the advanced threat prevention features it provides. The kernel-mode protection features of CHESS-P are a need of the hour, especially considering the proliferation of Advanced Persistent Threats in recent times".

As a thought leader, Dr. Prem has been a member of the Prime Minister's Task Force on IT & Software, the Chairman of the Security Committee of the World Tele Management Forum, a Member of the NASSCOM National Advisory Board on Security & Assurance and NASSCOM Cyber Security Task Force, and Member of many other national committees of CII on IT & security. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies and was visiting professor at IIT, Kharagpur. Dr. Prem has authored many notable research papers and has also been a distinguished speaker at many national and international conferences.

CEO Insights explores the exciting journey of Dr. Prem through an exclusive interview with the legend himself.

In conversation with Dr. Prem Chand, CEO & Co-Founder, Securweave.

How would you define Securweave as an organization and its position in the market?
Securweave Research Labs, incorporated in October 2021 and headquartered in Hyderabad, aims to address the security and safety needs of the rapidly evolving digital world, especially the Advanced Persistent Threats(APTs)where conventional solutions have proved inadequate. The company incubated at IITM, Pravartak, is one of the five startups supporting the Shakti Program to develop India's first indigenous commercial scale series of six microprocessors. Securweave is also a part of the support ecosystem for Digital India RISC-V (DIR-V) initiative.

We have developed security hypervisor SecV and leveraged it to build Configurable Hardware Enforced Safety & Security (CHESS) solutions for Shakti Processor (RISC V) and Intel 'x86' processor. CHESS is India's first indigenously built hypervisor-based security platform with multiple patents filed. It is currently used in RISE Lab and the 5G test bed at IITM. Securweave has been rated the Best Cyber Security Startup at AICRA Startup Conclave 2022 in Delhi.

We also work with Dell Technologies, DILABS, CDAC, LogicAPPs, National Forensic Sciences University, Data Security Council of India (DSCI), on compute platform security for building multiple use cases. We have teamed up with XScale Accelerator for building Go to Market capability and capacity. The company has been seed funded by IITM, Pravartak, and XScale.

Tell us about the various services offered by Securweave. What are the unique benefits that customers can avail of from your products and services?
APTs are not average malware anymore. They form the core of cyber offensives by adversaries through state actors and military channels. The conventional perimeter, endpoint, server, and Data Center security solutions are proving inadequate against APTs attacks. The threats are getting compounded when malware is driven through AI tools. The emerging victims are the IoT, embedded systems, 5G, and cloud infrastructures. The risks are high and impact national security and the economy. Defense against APTs requires a concerted national response to build credible cyber resilience.

The CHESS platform is a global-impact innovation solving the big problems of national scale high end security. It addresses the hitherto unaddressed challenges of APTs containing kernel mode rootkits which remain undetected for years and play havoc with the security and safety of nationally critical information infrastructures such as power, energy, transport, banking, healthcare, military, and so on.

The CHESS platform is built on the principles of zero trust. It can be used to protect mobile phones, laptops, desktops, servers, IOT, Industrial Control Systems, cloud, as a common security thread in standalone and embedded applications.

How is Securweave addressing the world's major and newest Cyber Security concerns, especially concerning national security?
Planners across the globe are at an inflection point, making far-reaching decisions that include ushering cyber weapons fully integrated into
military operations. Cyber security underpins all digital infrastructures and is emerging as a meta resource and a national security necessity synonymous with the survival & sustenance of a nation in social, economic, political, and military terms. India or any other country is no exception and has no option but to accept cyber security as a strategic enabler for economic growth, military capability, social well-being, political stability, and global play. Digitalization is further driven by AI, ML, 5G, IOT, Autonomous Systems, Robotics, Virtual Reality, Connected Automotives, Software Driven Networking (software driven everything), They bring an unprecedented security challenge. We must build security upfront into these foundational blocks of the digital ecosystem at the level of computer platforms, viz., processor and operating system.

APTs remain the most fearful, consistent, unmanageable, and largely unaddressed cyber threat globally, despite the $260 billion security market expected to reach $350 billion by 2025. These advanced malware programs are known to contain kernel-mode rootkits, and other exploit vectors that can compromise the kernel of the Operating System. Once penetrated, the malware persists in the victim's ICT assets for years. Compute platforms (Processor & Operating Systems) are the primary target of APTs. The security communities across the US, China, and Europe are focused on building secure computing platforms from the ground up and abandoning many current approaches to secure critical ICT assets.

The Operating Systems come with numerous vulnerabilities, which are exploited by rootkits in APT malware. Around 77 percent of rootkits are used for cyberes pionage. The average cost of a rootkit in the dark web is $2800, and hackers leverage these toolkits to launch very sophisticated attacks. Embedded systems are also increasingly becoming targets of malware attacks. Breach discovery takes an average of 197 days. The growth of cybercrime costs is expected to hit 10.5 trillion by 2025.

CHESS and similar products developed by a select few companies in USA and Europe can protect against the cyber attacks mentioned above. These solutions are targeted to nucleate security core into every critical compute asset of the Armed Forces, National Critical Information Infrastructure agencies, and large enterprises. Adopting such technologies would be an inescapable necessity in the foreseeable future. We, therefore, expect CHESS to become a core component of secure computing platforms across ICT infrastructures on a wider scale.

What keeps you motivated as a seasoned leader? What are the key challenges the team is up against?
Our key challenge is to assimilate and understand the emerging threats. With digitalization being driven further by AI, ML, 5G, IOT, Autonomous Systems, Robotics, Virtual Reality, Connected Automotives, Software Driven Networking (software-driven everything) etc. the cyber threats are becoming more and more complex and sophisticated. We, therefore, provide opportunities for the team to get exposure to these threats and new techniques for embedded security. We leverage IITM faculty and research scholars to provide further academic rigor. We also leverage our partner ecosystem to learn about potential use cases.

Tell us about the professional experience and expertise of other co-founders.
There are three minds behind Securweave, Gopakumar Thekkedath, co-founder & CTO, Dinakar Medavaram, co-founder & Chief Solution Architect, and myself.

Gopakumar possesses 21+ years of experience in the kernel and security domain, holding senior technical positions at NetApp, FireEye, and Nvidia. Dinakar also holds 20+ years of experience in embedded, kernel, and security domains. He has held senior technical positions at NetApp, Qualcomm, and Xilinx. They both are primarily focused on CHESS architecture, engineering, and development.

What are Securweave’s longterm objectives? Is the firm planning to introduce any cuttingedge technologies soon?
Securweave CHESS has three distinct functional components independent of each other: CHESS P for protection against kernel-mode attacks called the Kernel Protector, CHESS E for embedded applications, and Malware Reverse Engineering Engine (MAREE). CHESS P has already been launched into the market. CHESS E is expected to be launched by the end of 2022, and MAREE is under development.

Securweave has identified four commercial market segments for building use cases, viz. IoT, Avionics, Connected Vehicles, and Critical Infrastructures. These products will be launched incrementally into the market every four-to-six month over the next three years. We have also nucleated a separate team to build solutions for military applications as their requirements are somewhat different.

At the national level, Securweave would be expected to play a significant role in providing security into the computing platform proposed to be built around the Shakti processor, which would proliferate across ICT infrastructures. The long-term objective of Securweave is to usher itself as a security solutions supplier of choice for strategic IT assets in India and overseas.

How has the expansion of Securweave been since its inception? What elements have contributed to your organization’s success?
Securweave leadership team comes with more than 90 years of combined experience and expertise in electronics, embedded software, security, operating systems, systems engineering, and building complex end-to-end solutions. It took the core team nearly one year
to research and identify the area of work, viz. secure computing platforms. It required extensive literature surveys and peer discussions across the industry and government agencies to conclusively recognize that cyber resilience against APTs remains an unaddressed global problem and building a security shield around the processor and operating systems only can address this challenge.

The team worked over three years to build Type 1 hypervisor SecV and other components which form the core of CHESS for both CISC and RISC-V architecture. The opportunity to work with IITM on the Shakti processor added immense value to our efforts in further refining the product. The subsequent incubation of Securweave at IITM Pravartak provided further opportunity to become a part of five startups that constitute the Shakti ecosystem and wider connect with industry, government agencies, and academia.

Dr. Prem Chand, Co-Founder & CEO, Securweave
Dr. Prem is a visionary with over 45 years of experience in the defense, aerospace, and ICT industry. He completed his B Sc. (EE) from Punjab University, M Tech from IIT Madras, and Ph. D from BITS Pilani, underwent a two year Software Engineering Course at Selenia, Rome, and also completed a DBA course from ISB, Hyderabad.

Created many firsts in Many Firsts in the Navy:
Conceptualized Computer Family Architecture for Naval Applications (CFAN) India's first fault-tolerant military computer and Console Family Architecture for Naval Applications (CONFAN).Program lead for India's first indigenous shipborne Combat Management System (CMS), the first submarine CMS and Encryption Platform, the first encryption platform, the first indigenous firewall, and the first Digital Rights Management System.

Awards & Recognition:
Dr. Prem has been recognized several times for his unique contributions. Some of the recognitions include the award of 'Security Strategist of the Year' by Frost & Sullivan, "How to Make India a Destination for Building Secure Software Development A MultiBillion Dollar Opportunity," and "Dronacharya Award of the Year 2005" at Tech Mahindra.

Thought Leadership:
•Member, Prime Minister’s National Task Force on IT & Software Development.
•Chairman, World TeleManagement Forum’s (TMF) Security Committee.
•Member, New Generation Operations Software & Systems Architecture Board at TMF
•Member, Advisory Board, Information Systems Audit & Control Association (ISACA)
•Member, NASSCOM National Advisory Board on Security & Assurance
•Member, Board of Mentors, Regional Security Institute.
•Member, Executive Committee, Asia Pacific Telecommunication Council
•Member, National Research, Design & Development Working Group on IT
•Member, CII National Committees on IT& ITeS, Defense, cyber security, and AI.
•Member, NASSCOM Cyber Security Task Force & CII Cyber Security Task Force

Gopakumar Thekkedath, Co-Founder& CTO
Gopakumar has over 21 years of experience in product development, from conceptualization to delivery, as part of his engagements with industry majors such as Nvidia, FireEye, NetApp, etc. He holds multiple patents as well.

Dinakar Medavaram, Co-Founder, COO & Chief Architect
Dinakar has over 20 years of experience in core product development from conceptualization to delivery, thanks to his endeavors with industry majors such as Xilinx, QualComm, NetApp, Motorola etc. He has also worked as a scientist in the Department of Atomic Energy.

Authorship of Books, Reports & Papers:
•“Concept Definition, Architecture and Configuration for National C4ISR Program for India”, at WESEE in 1995.
•“Program Complexities of India’s National Information Infrastructure and Information Warfare Program for the Year 2000 and Beyond”, 10 Volume work (Restricted), at WESEE in Feb 2000.
•“Building India, a Destination for Secure Software Development New Wave Multi-Billion Opportunity for IT Industry,” in 2004 at Tech Mahindra.
•“Security Architecture for New Generation Operations Software Systems (NGOSS), at Tech Mahindra for TMF in 2005.
•“Building Non-Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), High Power Microwave (HPM) and High Energy Laser (HEL) Weapons as the Core of Information Warfare (IW) Deterrence for 21st Century India Thesis, Agenda, and Blueprint”, part of a one-year research effort as Distinguished Fellow at Centre for Air Power Studies, MoD in 2012
•“Building Network Centric Warfare Capability to Address the Security Challenges of 21st Century India”
•“Defense and Aerospace Corridor: Addressing the Needs of 21st Century India” created a company called PARAKRAM to implement this concept
•Presented many papers in national and international conferences & journals on a wide range of subjects.

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