while at school, Vikash Chaudhary routinely took apart his classmates’ radios and toys to see how they worked. These childhood tinkering led to a strong interest in electronics and technology.
Vikash’s passion for entrepreneurship developed while pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Pune. While exploring different operating systems, he became curious about ethical hacking and joined the ranks of self-taught hackers.
In 2015, he recognized the need for cybersecurity service providers in India and two years later, in 2017, founded a Pune-based companya provider of cybersecurity consulting services that enables users to “work in a safe environment and produce more value”.
The cybersecurity startup offers services such as Industry 4.0 security services – IoT, ICS/SCADA, cloud security, security assessment of blockchain solutions, penetration testing and application security.
It also provides automotive cybersecurity to help automotive suppliers and manufacturers protect against cyberattacks. In its end-to-end vehicle pentest, HackersEra conducts automotive security audits during the software development lifecycle and penetration tests on real vehicles.
The startup also works with telcos (2G, 3G, 4G and 5G) to provide penetration testing for telco signals and improve cybersecurity.
“I started with a vision to secure the virtual environment architecturally and network-wise, and to provide innovative practices that offer businesses greater security and productivity,” says Vikash, who funded the startup with Rs 40 lakh from his personal savings.
The founder says his startup’s flagship services include security assessments for sectors such as automotive, aviation, marine, telecom signal penetration, SATCOM and hospitality.
How does it work?
HackersEra offers three types of consulting services:
On site. When customers need to secure intellectual property or internal networks, engineers travel to the site to provide cybersecurity services.
offsite. When customers have public resources such as web applications or mobile applications, technicians only provide their services from the office.
remote control. When it is not possible to travel to the customer’s site, engineers use systems remotely to provide cybersecurity services.
The cybersecurity services onboarding process starts with generating leads and sending offers.
For example, if a vehicle manufacturer requires a component-level penetration test or a full-vehicle penetration test, the HackerEra team will send a customized quote.
As soon as it has decided on the task as a potential supplier, it provides resources with the necessary hardware equipment. For example, devices like HackRf, BladeRf, and USRP are used for radio frequency issues and CANBUS-related devices like USB2CAN for automotive security issues. This is followed by signing an NDA and Managed Service Provider (MSP) agreement with the customer.
HackersEra’s customers include car manufacturers, telecom companies, e-commerce companies and SMBs.
The startup has completed over 600 cybersecurity projects and has worked with 20 multinationals for services such as ATM penetration testing and automotive cybersecurity consulting.
It works with companies like L&T Technologies, Hotel Key India Pvt Ltd, Tata Elxsi, Tata Motors, Observe AI USA, Casepoint LLC USA, RACAMI LLC USA, LTTS India and Digiport UAE to name a few.
Consultancy fees start from Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 per hour for India depending on the services provided. “We have different tariffs for other countries depending on their requirements,” says Vikash.
Contract terms range from two to five years. “We used to get projects for a short time. Now we have customers who have given us contracts until 2024,” says the founder.
HackersEra currently has 34 employees in Vietnam, France, Oman, Saudi Arabia and India.
The knowledge hub
In addition to cybersecurity services, HackersEra also offers ethical hacking courses. The pre-recorded courses are available in the HackerEra University app.
“During college, I became curious about ethical hacking,” says Vikash. HackersEra released its first course in 2016.
Eight courses are currently offered: Offensive Approach to Hunt Bugs, Offensive Approach to Hunt Bugs 2.0, Offensive AndroHunter, SDR Exploitation, Offensive Automotive Security Assessment, Offensive API Penetration Testing, Offensive Thick Client Pentesting and Offensive Firmware Exploitation.
“Hacking is a complex process and I want to share my knowledge,” he says.
The courses – priced between Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,40,000 and lasting from 10 to 60 hours – are attended by 10,000 users each month.
sales and growth
The startup, which competes with vendors like Payatu and SecureLayer7, is seeing 30% annual growth.
According to Vikash, HackersEra onboards about 15 new customers every month and has served over 600 customers so far.
According to the startup, it has a market share of around 80% in the automotive cybersecurity sector with customers in India, Germany, Dubai and China.
HackersEra is present in India, USA, APAC and Africa. The startup says India accounts for about 40% of its revenue, with the rest from overseas customers.
Consultations make up 40% of the business; the rest comes from courses. The founder says courses generated revenue of Rs 7 crore in FY22.
The founder declined to disclose revenue details but said the plan is to generate revenue of Rs 18 crore by the end of FY23.
Market and future ahead
According to Mordor Intelligence, the global cybersecurity market was worth US$150.37 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach US$317.02 billion by 2027 and at a CAGR of 13.3% between 2022 and 2027 to grow.
HackersEra plans to expand into the Middle East by next year and forecasts revenue of Rs 15 crore by the end of FY24.
It plans to hire 23,200 people by the end of the fiscal year and intends to create a sister company, Hackerspice.com, an e-commerce site for hackers to buy hacking gadgets like the ESP32 WROVER KIT Developer Board.
“We are more focused on the service sector. It gives us the opportunity to grow exponentially by offering customers effective services like automotive cybersecurity,” says Vikash.