Decorative dot pattern
POSTED ON 15-June-22

We sat down with two emerging Canberra cyber startups to find out more about their cyber story.


Meet Phillip Vu, Founder of Blue Eagle Technologies

Phillip is a security engineer and has consistently seen large organisations and governments struggle with security defects in their application source code. Using AI and a combination of coding techniques, their innovative solution can fix a vulnerability in the code, faster and more cost effective.


"In 2019, I participated in the Secure Coding Challenge hosted by Services Australia, it changed my view on application development from a developer's perspective to a security engineer's perspective. I continue to explore and learn more about cyber security, and later realised that I love it." 


Tell us the story behind your company?


During the past ten years, our company has provided IT services to substantial clients here in Canberra such as Services Australia, Department of Defence, and Telstra. In doing so, we have repeatedly seen our clients struggle with security defects in their application source code.

These defects are usually fixed by security engineers like me, and like any other code updates, they must go through the whole test and release cycle, which are expensive and time consuming. And most importantly, cyber criminals will not wait a few months for us to fix the code.

We want to put an end to this problem. Using AI and a combination of coding techniques, our solution can fix a vulnerability in the code, the same way an engineer would fix it, but much faster and cheaper, because we managed to automate almost the whole process.


How do you keep innovating?


AppSecFasttrack is not my first start-up. I failed three times before starting AppSecFasttrack. Every time I failed, I built a complete system with the latest technologies at that time; this keeps me up-to-date with most of the technologies in the market. It also helped me to develop a habit to reflect and learn from my mistakes. 


What advice do you have for those who wish to pursue a career in the industry?


Most security engineers, I know, usually start their career with a top-down approach, often from strategy and policy levels. The market shapes us this way because of all the security certification requirements. This approach has pros and cons, I will not go into details here. IMHO, this is our weakness in the long run, because most of the innovation in the industry comes from a bottom up journey, where either we or the hackers find a vulnerability in the system, and can come up with a new hacking technique or a solution, which doesn't stem from a policy paper.


I think the new generation of cyber security engineers are very talented, and I hope that our next generation of security engineers will have more experience in other areas such as application development, AI and network engineering to maintain the right balance between the two approaches.


What advice do you have for everyday Australian's about cyber security?


I receive a lot of scam messages and scam calls, but I notice that the number of these scams has been increasing a lot recently. If I were a cyber criminal, I would need to explore a new way to trick the receiver because they do not click on the link. Cyber security is very broad, and I am still learning so I do not have any advice; for me, I will keep myself up-to-date with all these scams news so I can avoid them.


Meet Shantanu Bhattacharya, Founder of PhonePass

Shantanu is the inventor of Silicon Biometrics and has worked in the cyber industry for more than 25 years in varied roles. The technology used in PhonePass reduces digital identity fraud, enabling businesses to create secure, seamless and win-win loyalty programs for their customer base.


"I've been in cyber security for more than 25 years, I've been the Chief Architect of a Public Based Infrastructure (PKI) based product suite that was used by US President Bill Clinton and Belgian President to sign their respective electronic signature bills. I also has cyber security in my portfolio as the Head of Architecture Advisory and Review Board in Siemens Information Systems Limited."


Tell us the story behind your company?


Currently, the world economy is losing USD 50 Billion due to digital identity fraud in direct costs and ten times more in indirect costs. That is in spite of spending USD 170 Billion to solve the problem. That indicates a need for fresh approach. PhonePass’ Silicon Biometrics technology brings that fresh approach. It’s more accurate, cheaper and has many new use cases that standard digital identity fraud solutions cannot address.


How do you keep innovating?


My experience with large security focused Australian Federal Government agencies provides me with trend information. I also keep myself abreast by meeting senior executives and going through cyber security journals and magazines.
In addition, I am part of Canberra Cyber Hub Research Engagement Working Group that provides me an opportunity to meet brilliant minds.


What advice do you have for those who wish to pursue a career in the industry?


Do not get overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of cybersecurity. Start small, but keep growing your knowledge bit by bit. Before you know it, you would be equipped to handle substantial issues facing the cybersecurity industry.


What advice do you have for everyday Australian's about cyber security?


Do not underestimate the damage that cyber attack can have on you as an individual or as a business owner. Some of the impacts are lifelong. So, better be safe than sorry.