Hakimo is a Silicon Valley startup whose mission is to modernize corporate physical security and thus make workplaces safer for everyone. This is especially critical these days as companies all around the world are discussing return-to-work strategies. Until very recently, physical security used to be just about the proverbial ‘gates, guards, and guns.
Technology changed that paradigm over the last couple of decades through internet-connected cameras, badging systems, mass notifications, etc.
Even with those systems, security operations have still been reactive: you come to know about an incident only many hours or even days after it has happened. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing that paradigm and Hakimo is a company at the forefront of that revolution in the corporate security industry.
Hakimo ties into existing security systems and applies state-of-the-art AI techniques as an added layer to automate repetitive tasks, detect security breaches, and diagnose faulty hardware.
The company has generated so much momentum in the security industry that the product has already been deployed at multiple top enterprises. The company also recently announced a $4M seed round raise, led by top Silicon Valley venture capital investors, who have a history of getting in on the ground floor of other pioneering tech companies.
Samuel Joseph is the CEO and co-founder of Hakimo. A graduate of Stanford University, he has proven himself a preeminent figure in the AI technology arena before founding Hakimo.
He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, is named as an inventor on patents, is a member of Forbes Technology Council, and has served as a reviewer for various high-impact engineering journals. He has also played instrumental roles in developing critical algorithms for multiple Silicon Valley startups. He established Hakimo in 2020 at an impressively young age of 27.
The CEO Magazine sat down with Mr Joseph to know more about his achievements, the breakneck speed at which his company has gained momentum and become a leading player in the arena, his vision for the potential of AI in security, and his vision for Hakimo. Edited Excerpts:
Samuel: I noticed two trends that led to the birth of Hakimo. The first one was that cameras have become insanely inexpensive -- an internet-connected camera can now be bought for less than $20. The second one was the development of advanced AI algorithms which allow us to understand what’s happening in a video.
Now, on the first trend, most of those new cameras were used for security purposes. I realized that something magical would therefore happen at the intersection of security cameras and AI. That realization led to a path that eventually resulted in Hakimo.
Samuel: We had great customer traction and feedback which made the fundraising process fundamentally easy. The market validation which was already there and the AI expertise that I and my co-founder had were enough to overcome potential concerns/risks that the investors saw. And we’re fortunate to have a great set of investors backing us.
The only hurdle during the fundraising process, if any, was the fact that no face-to-face interaction was possible during the fundraising days because of the pandemic, which makes the $4 million raise that much more of an accomplishment.
Samuel: The pandemic has led to multiple changes in the corporate security landscape. First of all, crime rates have increased drastically and have led to an increase in the frequency of incidents.
The second factor is interesting and is specific to corporate security environments. With hybrid work environments and ‘office hoteling’ arrangements becoming the norm, an average employee coming into an office cannot be expected to recognize their fellow employees coming into an office on that given day.
This leads to very high tailgating risks: tailgating or piggybacking is the phenomenon where a second person enters a building in an unauthorized fashion by just following along someone else who made a valid entry.
Now if someone shows up in typical corporate attire, an employee would reasonably guess that the person is a fellow employee and will gladly give that person all the access he or she asks for.
Samuel: Most physical security breaches can be avoided by simple techniques. The basic principle is to be aware of one’s surroundings and not let others in with or without our knowledge.
Another common method is “see something, say something” which essentially means that if you notice something abnormal, you should report it to the concerned security authorities. These simple techniques, which everyone has come to know of, can go a long way in ensuring physical security in any scenario on a basic level.
Samuel: Great question. If you think about it, physical security is a critical piece of the bigger cyber-security puzzle. Once someone gains unauthorized access to an office setting, that attacker has access to all the network ports, USB ports, and exposed devices.
That intruder could then use those access points to mount a major cyber-attack. This is not just a hypothetical scenario -- this has happened at big international companies.
Sensitive data was stolen from a NASA lab through a Raspberry Pi, a $30 credit-card-sized computer, that was physically connected to a network port by an intruder who gained physical access to the facility.
Any entity becomes vulnerable to a cyber-security attack by the simplest ruse. An individual sent into an office wearing typical corporate attire can stand near a door holding doughnuts, making other employees think that this person is a co-worker bringing doughnuts for a meeting, happily giving the person full office access.
As a result, the attacker gains entry through tailgating, at which point he/she throws the doughnuts away, takes out a Raspberry Pi computer or a USB drive and plugs it into an open ethernet network port or a USB port and gains access to the network.
As I said earlier, the chances of such an attack being successful are higher post-COVID as employees will not be as familiar with other employees working at the physical office location on any given day. Thus, to answer your question, physical security does have real implications for a company’s cybersecurity posture.
Samuel: It is to lead this group of amazing individuals who are the best in what they do. I feel so humbled every day working with them.
Samuel: My vision is for Hakimo to become the de-facto option to monitor physical infrastructure. We currently specialize in security, but the same platform can help teams across the organization from facilities to HR to compliance managers.
Hakimo will become the default platform for anyone within an organization to interact with the physical assets of the business. I look forward to continuing to assemble a world-class team to expand the business and achieve that goal.