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Collaboration and Innovation: A NightDragon Conversation with HUMAN CEO Tamer Hassan

Tamer Hassan’s aim is for HUMAN to be a company of consequence, the co-founder and CEO of HUMAN trusts in the power of all humans working together to protect the integrity of the internet. He does not seek the spotlight, but you can always hear his passion when he talks about cybersecurity. 

Tamer took some time to connect with NightDragon founder and CEO Dave DeWalt. Dave talked to Hassen for the NASDAQ NightDragon CEO series. The two CEOs covered the origin of how the name HUMAN came to be, the scale of our network, why bad bots are a problem needing to be solved in every ecosystem, and how AI will change the way the industry fights cybercrime. 

There’s Power in a Name

Hassan, who "grew up in technology, code, and computers," co-founded HUMAN after his time as a search and rescue pilot for the Air Force. He ultimately found his way to cybersecurity by asking himself a grand question: "How do I contribute to solving some of the hard problems in technology?"

This led him on his journey to co-founding a company that would come to be named HUMAN. Emphasizing on the uniqueness of that name in this space, DeWalt was interested in the purpose behind it.

“HUMAN Security, the name of the company originated around the core problem we started with. “Is there a human on the other end of the screen?” This is fundamental to so many security and fraud use cases, fundamental to what we felt was the integrity of the Internet - to know who's real. That's what we built our original technology around solving that problem. Which brought us into a whole variety of use cases. Today, as we continually build out the Human Defense Platform. We stop digital attacks on consumer facing technologies. It starts with bots, but it's everything, all the way to fraud, abuse, and compliance use cases across the customer base that we have. We deploy our technology on websites, applications and digital media across the internet. That's where we do our work.”

The work Hassan speaks of has evolved over the years to include the 3 pillars of modern defense strategy. When asked by DeWalt about the second pillar network effect and how its scale has grown, the HUMAN CEO went into what that means as far as what we view and how it helps us protect the digital landscape. 

“As we've grown across these use cases, everything from media, e-commerce, and financial services now. Our footprint has grown to 20 trillion API calls into the platform every week. That's what we see. This global activity inside of websites and applications that we protect. We view over half of the devices around the globe on a regular frequency. It gives us this baseline of what’s a real and authentic human as a start, and a foundation for solving some of the important security and fraud problems that were embedded.”

Along with the scale of our network effect, we also have our other two pillars of visibility and disruptions and takedowns. These working in conjunction build out our modern defense strategy which fuels our Human Defense Platform.

Bad Bots Equal Big Problems

Bad bot traffic rose by 102% year over year, a problem that DeWalt is well aware of and understands the necessity of discussing it in public settings. While he had Hassan on stage, he posed the question of how the growing issue should be addressed.

“One interesting fact not a lot of people realize is that over three quarters of security incidents use a bot somewhere in the attack cycle. It is a tool for modern cybercrime. Sometimes it's for vulnerability scanning, sometimes it's for breaching the account with stolen credentials and often it's to manipulate transactions downstream in application - it is truly a universal tool. The problem that we've addressed and has grown over the years from “Is it a human or not?” to “What can you do with a million fake humans?” The answer to that question is broad and wide. We see everything, from our number one use case being account takeovers, or using stolen credentials to breach accounts, all the way to manipulating media and popularity on certain stories or websites. Even bots listening to music on streaming media platforms.”

To protect multiple digital ecosystems you have to be able to evolve with the possibility of multiple threats. Something that splashed onto the mainstream this year was artificial intelligence. When asked about the hot button issue the HUMAN CEO spoke on how it depends who wields the technology as well as how it is used.

“There's certainly a step level change in the game of bots and AI at this point. Bots will define the next 10 years of the internet, both for legitimate business and for malicious actors. That is the new playing field. The trend that we've seen over the last 10 years is bots becoming more and more human-like. Perfectly impersonating human activity. That just made a huge leap with AI emerging on the scene. The thing that we have to remember about technology is that technology is democratic, everybody has access to it, and it does not discriminate. So malicious actors and good actors alike, will have access to AI. That will be the new playing field, and we have to play a different game. 

First of all, we have to combat AI with AI to make sure that we're leveraging the capabilities to the max extent possible. 

Beyond that, it becomes a strategy game similar to any warfare problem. How do we change the economics? How do we make it cost more [for fraudsters]? How do we make it cost less [to defend]? That's all about collective defense. It's about public and private collaboration.”

The HUMAN Side of Things 

New threats will always be prevalent in the digital space, and we will remain on the cutting edge of developing defenses for emerging threats to safeguard our partners. It is a fight worth battling and with a modern defense approach, we have a winning strategy. As Hassan so rightfully put it, “We can not do this alone.” Knowing who is real is a collaborative effort. Disrupting the economics of cyber crime is something that can only be achieved collectively. We are all human at the end of the day, and when it comes to digital interactions, we hope to keep it that way. 

Listen to the full NIGHTDRAGON interview to hear Tamar Hassan’s complete vision for the future of humanity on the internet.