The CEO trying to democratize cybersecurity | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

Felix Kan is the chief executive officer of Cyberbay, a platform connecting institutions that want to test their cybersecurity with freelance coders skilled in hunting for bugs and exploits that a hacker could use. The platform effectively turns cybersecurity into gig work, using freelancers to search for weaknesses and test a company’s defenses, with rewards paid out if vulnerabilities are identified. Launched in June 2023, Cyberbay’s goal is to help smaller companies and institutions afford robust cybersecurity checks without having to hire an in-house team.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

A survey found that nearly three-quarters of Hong Kong businesses faced cyberattacks last year. How does cybersecurity awareness in Asia compare to the West?

Western companies have faced cybersecurity problems earlier on, and have developed more advanced defense systems. Criminals are now shifting their focus to other regions. 

Many companies in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia believe they are free from cyberattacks because they have kept a low profile, or that they will be fine as long as they pass one security assessment. This line of thinking is hindering them from building cybersecurity capabilities.  

Who are the bug hunters? 

They have all kinds of professions, such as teachers, office workers, or security consultants. On our platform, they are most active during off-work hours. It’s like how people drive Uber after work. 

In 2023, we organized a two-month campaign with the Hong Kong police to conduct exams for more than 60 institutions — 80% of them were found to have cybersecurity problems, and some gig experts made more than 50,000 Hong Kong dollars ($6,392) in rewards. We plan to expand into Southeast Asia in the coming year.

What is your long-term goal with Cyberbay? 

We hope to make cybersecurity protection more accessible. We are trying to train more cybersecurity talent. For example, we are discussing with schools to guide students in running security exams for their own schools. 

When we were in school, there were student leaders who helped teachers enforce discipline. Now, we increasingly live in virtual space, and when students spot safety hazards there, they could also raise their hands. They will become part of the future cybersecurity talent pool. 


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National Cyber Security