Publish your work, it’ll open doors: Salesforce engineer | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

Hyderabad-born Anuj Malkapuram has in less than a decade made a name for himself in the hot field of cybersecurity. He’s principal security engineer for Salesforce at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, and has multiple patents and publications to his name. Ask him which field engineering students should focus on, and he’s unequivocal – cybersecurity. “A recent estimate shows that over three million cyber security roles will go unfilled in 2021/2022. These are positions that you could already be training to fill! On top of that, it is a well-paying job,” he says.
Anuj did his undergrad at Gandhi University in Hyderabad, before moving to the US to do Master’s in computer network and security at San Jose State University. He’s today an expert at trying to detect attackers. Hackers use a variety of masking and defensive techniques to hide their identity, which means a cybersecurity specialist needs to find innovative methods to win in these high-stakes hide-and-seek games. Anuj’s machine learning models and data science techniques were so effective and unique that he’s been able to file over a half-a-dozen patents.
One of his patents revolves around converting data into binary bits before feeding it into a ML model to detect the presence of unscrupulous actors. “Today, browsers and software products get updated frequently, sometimes every hour or so. So, when we feed binary data and ask an ML model if there was a change from now and the previous day in a set of authentication logs, the ML model will go into the exact field where there is a change in a zero and one. For example, if I log in now and log in 10 minutes later, but now I use a Safari browser instead of a Chrome browser, and then we feed the model this data in binary values, the model looks at it and immediately finds the discrepancy and identifies the change.”
Techniques like these have allowed Anuj and his team to stop many cyberattacks. It’s a field where you get to innovate and experiment a lot, since the attackers are constantly doing the same thing.
Students, Anuj says, should pick up the courage and “always put themselves out there.” You never know what unexpected doors open when you do. In Anuj’s case, publishing articles and showcasing his work has given him the opportunity to be a judge at security conferences, most notably at DefCon, one of the world’s largest hacker conventions held annually in Las Vegas. “Getting an invitation to be a judge is an eye-opening experience because there are a lot of smart people out there with smart solutions, so you don’t only get a chance to be a judge, but to learn quite a few things from them in return.”

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