Personal Growth

Disruptive DNA: A 'red shield' to secure data

October 2015

Andy Prow says his decision to run his own business was influenced by Peter Thiel, one of Silicon Valley's most successful investors. Today, his company, Aura Information Security support over 100 clients worldwide, mostly comprising large organisations with complex computer security needs.

Like many self-made entrepreneurs, Andy may have questioned if he had the confidence or the personality to run his own business. However, there was always a ‘fire in his belly’ and a core motivation to do his own thing away from the corporate world, and more significantly he had a mission to change things.

The breakthrough came in 2006 when Prow's development company worked on an information security project. Two years later, it flipped from writing software to penetration testing. In effect, companies paid Aura to hack their computer systems to find and fix vulnerabilities before criminals could break in.

In 2012, Aura developed Red Shield, an infosec product that combines automated vulnerability scanning, protection and services. Prow notes that not every customer is ready or able to fix security holes uncovered by Aura's testing business, hence the need to shield vulnerable apps from attack.

Now, Aura is regarded as an infosec specialist with international reach. The company featured in the 2011 Deloitte NZ Fast 50 and in the Deloitte APAC Tech Fast 500 for 2010, 2011 and 2014. The company's growth continues to accelerate today.

When Aura moved into infosec in 2006, the market consisted largely of telecommunications companies and government agencies. Then the sector took off. Whilst he has always anticipated it was poised for expansion, Prow couldn't predict exactly how fast it would grow– the positive side to a burgeoning IT industry and one that sometimes keeps him awake at night.

Aura has been self-financed until now, and Prow attributes the business' growth to the fact that he has not taken a share of profit, allocating only a small salary for himself and his wife. He prefers to focus on investing in talent: “Every year we hire more people. We hire ahead of the game so we're ready. We're now up to 41 employees."

With Red Shield taking off, Prow says meeting the opportunity means ramping up and hiring more staff. While the necessary investment could come from cash flow, there's an aspiration for Aura is to grow by accelerating its footprint and provide information security to organisations around the globe.