Modex, the blockchain database company, is delighted to announce Amyn Gilani as its Chief Growth Officer. An experienced executive with an impressive career working for the US Government and companies from the private sector, Amyn brings valuable cybersecurity, product management and product development knowledge to Modex’s operations. Following a discussion focused on Modex’s expansion in the US market, Mihai Ivascu, Modex CEO and Co-founder, shares more details about the company’s new Chief Growth Officer.
Dear Amyn, as the CEO and Co-founder of Modex, in the name of our Team we would like to thank you for joining the company as Modex’s new Chief Growth Officer! You’re a very experienced executive with vast experience both in the US Government side, but also in the private sector. Please tell us more about that.
Thank you, Mihai. First, I want to say that I’m thrilled to be here and help the team grow Modex – we have a very bright future ahead. I started my career as an intelligence analyst when I enlisted in the US Air Force. My six-year tenure in the military provided me many amazing opportunities and missions defending the nation by conducting offensive and defensive cyber activities supporting NSA and US Cyber Command.
Afterwards, I led the cyber threat analysis team at the Department of Homeland Security, where we defended against nation-state threats against government entities. After some great offensive and defensive experience, I moved to Goldman Sachs to lead Red Team Operations. My main focus was to emulate sophisticated attacks similar to a nation-state adversary. We performed firm-wide war games and pen-tested high value systems and assets. This ultimately helped the firm become more resilient and trained muscle memory to handle an incident if it ever were to happen.
After Goldman Sachs, I helped Booz Allen build the cybersecurity practice and supported government CSO’s and CISO’s mature their security posture and digital transformation. In my last role, I led product management and product development at a cyber security start-up that focused on identity theft and unmasking cybercriminals. I helped bring the concept of cyber attribution to market and built the US business pipeline. Overall, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked in cybersecurity as a practitioner, consultant, and entrepreneur.
It would be great to tell us more about some of your most exciting projects you’ve worked on so far – the non classified ones.
Of course, all the great stories are classified, but one of the most exciting things I did while in the Air Force was using satellites and IoT devices to track down and capture some of the most dangerous individuals of al-Qaeda when I was deployed in Iraq. This ultimately disrupted the nefarious terrorist activities and helped protect natives and coalition forces.
How do you see the adoption of applied distributed ledger technologies (DLT) in day to day life going forward? What will drive that massive adoption?
We’re already beginning to see DLT technology enabling payments and marketplaces, and it goes beyond just financial services. There are so many rich applications of DLT to transform healthcare, media, and supply chain. We now live in a society where we need to establish identity, trust, and secure data exchange instantly and we’ll see massive adoption when DLT crosses over from enterprises to consumers — which is frankly beginning to take shape now.
What do you think is the killer application of DLT? Where do you see that in the GOV and DOD space, but also at the enterprise level?
I think the killer application for DLT is going to be identity access management and verification. As a society, we have so many identity-based hurdles to jump over because physical and digital identities are so difficult to verify. Whether you are logging on to your work systems, banking, or even registering to vote, DLT will eventually transform all identity-based checkpoints.
For the government, I feel that we all would benefit from a DLT powered voting system. A blockchain powered voting system would increase accountability, virtually eliminate fraud, and would not alienate or suppress voters regardless of economic and financial status. Best part is that results would be instant – no recounts needed.
For enterprises, data security is the immediate need. Business decisions are all made based on rich data sets and it’s important that this data is verified, trusted, searchable, and in the proper custody. With DLT, you can be confident that data is immutable but also secured.
At Modex, we’ve very focused on providing data integrity to any database client. How important do you think ‘zero trust’ infrastructures are becoming today?
When I was a consultant, I saw that more than half my clients were adopting zero trust – even if it was in a small way. Zero trust is the future of enterprise infrastructures because it’s impossible to trust a single login or device into your environment because it’s far too easy for hackers to brute force a password to gain access to enterprise networks. Though the adoption of zero trust has been somewhat slow, it will begin to have mass adoption because COVID has completely changed the way people work.
You have a lot of experience in designing strong products in the cybersecurity space. What are the key features defining a great product in cybersecurity and data protection?
A good cybersecurity product should do two things; make the user and their organization more effective and more efficient. Previously, I led the development of a product that helped unmask threat actors, essentially helping solve the problem of cyber attribution. This of course is a very arduous challenge, so a good cybersecurity product also has to help solve difficult problems. Another thing that makes a great product is user-friendliness; whether it be deployment or operating the platform, the user must be delighted when they work with your product.
What’s your view of the most innovative technologies applied in data protection and cybersecurity? What are the new trends?
Because we’re working from home more than ever now, I believe that the most innovative technologies in security will be focused on protecting the user beyond the firewall and enabling a more mobile workforce powered by the cloud with full security controls. Breaches are usually caused by weak passwords, so one of my favourite trends right now is actually getting rid of the password. It’s just a dated method, and there are so many new and innovative ways for single sign-on that are enabling users to authenticate without using passwords.
What made you join Modex and how do you see our growth in the US market?
The team, technology, and the timing. The team is absolutely brilliant, talented, and kind, and the technology and products have already provided value by transforming multiple customers’ businesses by leveraging blockchain databases. The timing is the most important thing here, and what I mean by that is that the market is ready to begin adopting distributed ledger technologies. We will begin our growth in the US by focusing on industries that are ready to incorporate blockchain powered applications such as financial services, supply chain, agriculture, insurance, energy, and the federal government. I’m humbled to be working alongside you, Mihai, and I’m extremely excited to start the Modex expansion in the US!