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Hack the box: security playgrounds

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“No, complex passwords don’t offer any real form of protection any more. If your protection is just a password, you can pretty much assume someone could be browsing through your data. Today, you need to have two-factor authentication, using things like tokens that produce one-time codes, or something like that,” explains Haris Pylarinos, CEO and founder of Hack The Box, an online platform that allows users to o test and advance their skills in penetration testing and cyber security.

“As a cybersecurity professional, I can tell you that the best way to train yourself to protect against hackers is…to hack. But, with the way legislation has developed, hacking can land you in jail, right? So what we did is set up a massive playground for cybersecurity professionals to learn and improve their penetration testing skills in a legal way. We set up fake companies for cybersecurity experts to try to hack,” he adds. “We work with individuals as much as with companies. For example, we work with two of the Big-Four accounting firms who use our labs to train their staff.”

What started as a community project in 2017 has grown into a very profitable enterprise, offering invaluable training to cybersecurity experts. The environment is controlled, and Hack The Box employs gaming elements like badges, team-play and hall of fame awards. “We even have universities competing against each other on our platforms,” Haris says. “Beyond our 128,000 users, every day we have 300-400 new members joining. Of course, to join, they need to hack the registration code.”

In March 2019, Hack The Box received an important investment from Marathon Venture Capital, a venture capital firm backed by the EIF, which, as Haris describes, was about more than just the financing: “We considered them an asset for the business. They understand start-ups, they have connections and they have been a great help. With their experience they’ve helped us avoid errors and traps. This kind of business guidance is invaluable.” With the financial injection, Hack The Box is working on product development, improving its free offerings, reconstructing its commercial offerings and investing in R&D for a new product that will offer real-time interaction between hackers.

“In the past, hacking used to be a big issue. It could ruin your computer. But today, the implications are so much bigger… With the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and computers so intricately connected to the real world, hackers could do a lot more damage, like sink a ship or set a building on fire. Cybersecurity professionals need to face up to these increased risks.” And every week, everything changes. One week, one thing is considered super-safe, but the next it’s history. A bit like those complex passwords…”At the end of the day, it’s the mindset that makes the difference,” Haris says. “If you are security-aware and care about protection, that’s what will keep you safe.”

Company: Hack the Box

Type of business: ICT

EIF financing: Equifund

Financial intermediary: Marathon Venture Capital

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Greece, please refer to:
http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/el

 

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