J'can student has large antivirus software firms in his cross hairs

J'can student has large antivirus software firms in his cross hairs

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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SHELDON Duncombe reckons that he can compete with some of the world's largest antivirus software companies when he launches his company, HurteX, next March.

Duncombe, a finalist in the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Tech-I competition, has teamed with a software engineer at Google, Mennouchi Azeddine Islam, to provide information technology services that eliminate software vulnerabilities caused by web-based applications and server hackers.

The idea, which was developed during his stay at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakech, Morocco, earlier this year, has resulted in the 20-year-old holding a 45 per cent stake in the new company. The operational codes of HurteX are now being developed by Islam and another three individuals, who will share the remaining 55 per cent of the company.

"I believe we can compete with big companies like McAfee and Norton because those companies perform routine checks, but they don't provide software against hackers," Duncombe told the Jamaica Observer. "We will be changing the codes every day to strengthen our customers' systems against potential hackers."

Prior to his visit to Morocco, the University of the West Indies student had entered the GIST Tech-I competition after developing a Type 1 diabetes correction device that would replace the insulin pump used in the care of diabetes.

The correction device would help to avoid major surgeries such as pancreas transplantation and would monitor the patient's blood sugar level every 15 minutes through a glucose centre attached to the body, according to Duncombe.

Any information collected by the glucose centre would then be transmitted to a watch and stored to be used as a reference point for doctors for up to one week. Although he received honourable mention for the social impact of the idea during the summit, Duncombe's plan has now changed.

"I'm not throwing the idea out, but I'm holding off on it for now," he told the Business Observer. "I was told by an investor that I needed something more scalable in terms of funding, as the software I had in mind was too expensive to start out with."

He added that one of the pieces of equipment needed to create the correction device would cost US$6,000 ($678,000).

However, he is confident that his new area of interest will give him the return he desires at little or no start-up cost.

HurteX is designed to cover network-related issues including the building of IT infrastructure, applications and devices, through integrated solutions that build a defence system against vulnerabilities. The company will also perform routine forensic analysis, audit checks, cloud protection and virtual network security as part of the service.

"We will be conducting daily checks to identify vulnerabilities and then patch or add on additional security where necessary," Duncombe stated.

The company will be targeting financial institutions, the US Embassy and corporate businesses. Acknowledging that the local competitive market is relatively small, Duncombe hopes the company will gain enough recognition to expand the services regionally by 2016.

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