This interview is part of our new AI in Cybersecurity series, where we interview the world's top thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between AI and cybersecurity.
In this interview, we speak with Zia Hayat, Founder and CEO of Callsign, to understand how his company is using AI to transform cybersecurity, and what the future of the cybersecurity industry holds.
What’s the story behind Callsign? Why and how did you begin?
ZH: In 1994, when Russian hacker Vladimir Levin attempted the biggest bank heist the world had ever seen via dial-up internet, I was immediately hooked. It seemed like the days of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’-style crimes were numbered, and armchair fraud was becoming a real possibility. I knew from then on that I wanted to play a part in stopping the “bad guys” and secure the internet for all those who participated. At the time, I could have never predicted today’s digital world.
After receiving my first-class degree and a Ph.D. thesis in Information Systems Security, I began designing and delivering secure information systems with companies like BAE Systems, Accenture Consulting, and Lloyds Banking Group. But I realized that to make a real impact on identity solutions, I would need to start from the ground up and create my own company.
Today, Callsign has more than 130 employees and has expanded beyond its London HQ to New York. Our engineering team comes from a banking and e-commerce background, with over 300 years of combined experience in making software work for all. That’s why we are chosen to help some of the world’s largest banks and offer the same “bank grade” identification solutions to public and private sector clients of all sizes.
Please describe your use case and how Callsign uses artificial intelligence:
ZH: Since the rise of today’s modern digital era, identity has become incredibly complex. Fraudsters are doing everything from influencing elections and taking trillions of dollars from the global economy to targeting the average individual by taking over social media and bank accounts. The solution would seem obvious — implement a Fort Knox-type security solution across every platform to lock out the bad guys.
But customers make it clear — they don’t want to jump through hoops to log on and transact online, and often choose ease over security. That’s where Callsign steps in. Our innovative solution is bolstered by AI and machine learning, combined with people, to make sure authentication and authorization policies work from a user, company and regulatory perspective. The end goal is to minimize much of the disruptive and costly fraud banks and other sectors are dealing with on a daily basis while allowing users to get on with their digital lives.
Callsign leverages neural networks and machine learning techniques to ascertain certainty in a user’s identity. These techniques — within the general field of A.I. — help us to develop first-in-class, statistically significant systems of prediction.
The application of these techniques allows us to process and learn across a plurality of data points from customer devices and interactions across channels and build a digital profile that is able to remember and recognize an individual’s devices, locations, and behavior.
Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
ZH: One of our common implementations for our customers is the application of these data points to intelligent authenticator mechanisms. Specifically, Callsign’s swipe technology — developed via trained artificial neural nets — is used to authenticate an individual via a prompt to “swipe” on their mobile phone. This novel technology has been used in large global retail banking applications and colleague authentication space to protect access to systems, and as an easy-to-use, friction-free user experience with speed whilst still maintaining high levels of security.
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