Zia Hayat: Transforming the Digital World with CallSign
With the usage of Internet, essential data shared via unsecured mediums has increased over the years giving room for a plethora of hacks and malpractices. Well, precaution is better than cure. Zia Hayat, Founder and CEO of CallSign, was certain about his intention to create a secure internet platform for all, reducing the risks of cyber-crimes. CallSign is a leading solution provider that enables users to access the digital world seamlessly, with unique techniques securing the access to services and enhancing a hassle-free user experience. Sharing his journey with us today is the expert himself, Zia Hayat, who was led by a vision to transform the digital world. What is the vision of Callsign? Brief us about the services that Callsign provides and tell us why customers choose you? How has been the journey so far since the inception of Callsign. In the early stages of my career, when I was working in the security team at Lloyds Banking Group in the UK, I realized the problem of identiﬁcation was a signiﬁcant issue for banks and one only set to continue with the proliferation of the internet and the ubiquity of mobile devices. I also appreciated that, in a huge ﬁnancial institution, there are only so many times you can ask the question, “why?”, and it became clear that to make a real impact on identity solutions, I would have to set up my own company – hence the creation of Callsign. Callsign is an identiﬁcation platform, that uses all of the thousands of data points available such as typing or swiping techniques, location, online habits, face recognition, devices, and yes even passwords, to determine someone is who they say they are; we even know the Monday person can behave diﬀerently to the Friday person. Most of these data points are friction-free for the user, and so we use these to determine that someone’s behavior is within their normal pattern. Where there is a veering from the norm we then intelligently introduce further tests, avoiding a rules-based approach that can be replicated by the bad guys. Many customers have had increased return on investment by consolidating on Callsign’s technology across employees and customers, and by using the company’s focused deployment program organizations can secure the higher risk areas ﬁrst. They can even make sure current authentication technology is integrated into their identity platform so legacy investment is not redundant. Callsign builds up individual identity proﬁles, rather than identifying from averages to reduce costly errors. These are anonymous to protect privacy. As a result, users can get on with their digital lives whilst businesses improve customer engagement, increase productivity and reduce the risk of fraud. What were the initial struggles that Callsign had to face? How did the company overcome the same? The challenges were very much in line with what most start-ups experience. Finding the initial funding (to add to the personal investment) and making sure that I hired the right people. Given my extensive background in banking, fraud and security industries, I already had a widespread network of contacts who I could reach out to in order to build the right team to realize my ambitions. Being the CEO of Callsign, what is your contribution to the company? What changes has the company brought in your life since the foundation? I oversee the direction and strategy of the company, whilst contributing to the innovation and design of the service. I’m a strong advocate for home-grown talent and aim to promote an exemplary leadership style. As well as striving to achieve the most secure identiﬁcation solution on the market, setting up my own company has also made me realize I have a passion for supporting young people to achieve their goals. Having grown up in a working-class community to now be where I am today, I have ambitions to share my experience with others who really need it. Despite initiatives that aim to help children from poorer backgrounds into sectors such as technology, ﬁnance etc. for their careers, social mobility remains a huge global issue. Being a mentor to young people is a small way I can help combat this trend. Tell us the best piece of advice you ever received and how it impacted your life. It might not be advice per-say, but my life was transformed after reading a news story about how Vladimir Leonidovitch Levin, a Russian hacker, attempted the biggest ever bank heist, all via the internet. I found it fascinating how a person could use a basic dial-up modem technology to hack the back-end systems of Citibank in New York with such ease. Since that moment, I became intrigued with all things; security and internet related. In fact, when I was fourteen years old, when my dad questioned me about my future career plans, my response was – “The internet is going to be huge, everyone is talking about it. I am going to make it secure”. Have you achieved all that you had desired? Tell us about the moment when you realized that your hard work has ﬁnally paidoﬀ. What keeps you driven and determined towards work? I don’t think I will be completely satisﬁed until fraud is a thing of the past! Since the rise of today’s modern digital era, identity has gotten even more complex. For example, many use the same email and password across dozens, if not hundreds, of online accounts. In fact, the whole concept of digital identity is fundamentally broken as illustrated by fraudsters doing everything from inﬂuencing elections, taking trillions of dollars from the global economy and more. But digital identity fraud isn’t just about nefarious criminals. Fraud can even extend to law-abiding citizens with mis-advised intent by generously sharing logins for media companies, like Netﬂix. It’s the belief that Callsign is truly making people’s lives better and safer, that gets me out of bed every day. One of my proudest moments was in 2018 when we moved to our ﬁrst permanent oﬃce space outside of the UK, in New Jersey. What’s the current scenario, breakthroughs and disruptions, in the industry? What beneﬁts does ‘Callsign’ provide over its competitors? With the proliferation of data breaches, advanced threats resulting in stolen user credentials, there is increasing pressure on companies of all sizes around the world to implement better authentication practices. In 2015 alone, cybercrime cost businesses $500 billion, and this is estimated to rise four times to $2 trillion in 2019. At the same time, companies want to minimise the friction that universal two-factor authentication introduces to the user experience. In response, Callsign developed a deep learning-based identity fraud, authorization and authentication platform called Intelligence Driven Authentication™ (IDA). It enables enterprises to select the most secure and least invasive identity journeys for each user in real-time, based on their risk proﬁle and tendencies – in other words, it adapts the type of authentication to the situation virtually eliminating advanced threats such as spear phishing. The result is an experience that optimises for both security and usability. I believe that simply guaranteeing someone is who they say they are should be a basic requirement for any solution. Today’s user expects more from technology, they are used to smart and seamless experiences and anything less causes people to abandon transactions or ﬁnd other ways such as costly calls to helpdesks. By using all of the thousands of data points available, such as typing or swiping techniques, location, face recognition, devices, and even passwords, Callsign provides a friction-free experience. What sets the company apart from other vendors is that others often calculate risk from single perspective e.g. device based on the activity at the point of transaction. Our unique approach to data means the conﬁdence score delivered, is based on current and previous transactions, building a truer picture of the user’s identity over time. In addition, our dynamic policy manager allows the business to create user journeys in natural language. These user journeys can be both contextual and role based for maximum personalization. What are your plans going ahead? What does the future hold for Zia and Callsign? Callsign has expectations to become the leading player in the industry by expanding the product oﬀering and growing broadly into a wide variety of sectors and countries. As well as banking, Callsign is already engaging with companies in insurance, eGaming, policing, media and those who run loyalty card programmes. In terms of growing the company, the intent is to expand internationally, with a priority of US (beyond our New Jersey oﬃce), Australia, Japan, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, and United Arab Emirates.