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  • Writer's pictureRoy Urrico

InfoSec People Profile: OneSpan’s Sameer Hajarnis

General Manager and Senior Vice President of Digital Agreements


By Roy Urrico


Finopotamus presents InfoSec People Profiles, a series spotlighting individuals working in information security, cybersecurity and/or information governance to protect data and transactions at credit unions and other financial institutions.


Sameer Hajarnis, OneSpan.

The proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI)-based capabilities available to cybercriminals worsened the ever-increasing threat of fraud – especially stemming from identity theft – to financial institutions.


Sameer Hajarnis, general manager and senior vice president of digital agreements at Chicago-based OneSpan, which specializes in digital identity and anti-fraud solutions, suggests credit unions and banks must implement more vigorous identity verification methods to thwart these new deception techniques.


Growing up in India


Hajarnis grew up in Pune, India. There he studied computer engineering at Savitribai Phule Pune University and later earned a Master of Business Administration from the Institute of Management Development and Research in 1996.


His professional career began at Bajaj Auto Ltd in the Pune Area as a Software Engineer. Next, he became a project manager at and then worked his way into professional services at several firms in the U.S., from 1998 to 2005.


Before joining OneSpan in 2015, Hajarnis spent 10 years at OpenText in various leadership positions across the organization’s analytics division, working his way up to vice president of professional services. “In that role, I was responsible for scaling the professional services team to deliver enterprise analytic solutions to customers globally,” Hajarnis recalled.


Digital Transformation Attraction and OneSpan


“Overall, my experience is in leading cross-functional teams at enterprise software and SaaS (software as a service) organizations, managing business development, sales, strategic alliances, and customer success to improve the customer product and service experience,” said Hajarnis. He added, “I was interested in a career at OneSpan for many reasons.”


To begin with, the digital transformation market attracted him because he enjoyed the idea of influencing the conveyance of digital transactions. “The team at OneSpan is extremely innovative in its approach, so I was excited to start working with them and thinking outside the box when it came to standing out among larger players in the e-signature industry.”


Regarding information security, Hajarnis’ current role at OneSpan as senior vice president and general manager of digital agreements means he is responsible for managing and leading the company’s digital agreement initiatives and operations. “Essentially my role revolves around enhancing OneSpan Sign – OneSpan’s secure e-signature solution – and overall customer service experience. Another big part of my role is to ensure OneSpan’s e-signature solutions meet compliance and market demands, as well as contribute to the company’s overall growth strategy.”


Cybersecurity Operations


“OneSpan has been protecting businesses' most critical transactions and interactions for over 30 years. In today’s digital-first world, the integrity of online agreements is being challenged,” said Hajarnis. He noted OneSpan solutions are uniquely designed to provide a frictionless identity verification process and hidden security capabilities to help companies achieve their critical business goals and securely conduct transactions. He added, “OneSpan operates in multiple industries, serving 60% of the world’s largest banks as well as leading enterprises across insurance, government, healthcare, and professional services.”


Hajarnis explained OneSpan offers enterprise-grade solutions that provide continuous identity verification and authentication, e-signature, high-assurance virtual collaboration, and secure storage. “Our team is constantly thinking about ways to improve the transaction experience and protect users from evolving threats. This past year we rolled out OneSpan Notary, the all-in-one cloud-connected solution that allows organizations and their customers to notarize documents — online or on mobile devices — in a secure and trusted environment,” said Hajarnis.


In addition, quantum computing's emergence, which some infosec experts believe might threaten encryption systems in use today, poses a threat to the integrity of digital agreements, leading to potential data loss, manipulation, identity or asset theft, and legal repercussions for organizations, explained Hajarnis. “We recently launched OneSpan Trust Vault, merging traditional digital signatures with blockchain tech for quantum-safe proofs ensuring long-term agreement authenticity.”


The Threats Causing Sleepless Nights


When Finopotamus asked, “What threats keep you up at night?” Hajarnis responded, “This past year we have seen the rise of new and unfamiliar technology, and with it, new threats that target users' critical information.” He cited AI and how it is improving the sophistication of phishing attacks. “In this regard, identity theft and fraud are top of mind.”


He added, “Whether it be through credential harvesting, synthetic identities, etc., identity theft has escalated due to the rise of digital adoption. To combat these fraudulent attacks, we need to look beyond legacy verification solutions to ensure the integrity of all digital interactions, transactions, and agreements, thus ultimately protecting digital identities from fraud.”


Digital transformation will only keep growing, but as this happens, the threat landscape is amplifying, asserted Hajarnis. “The potential impact that these threats pose to businesses is huge – they cannot be static or stagnant when it comes to security. I am most worried that organizations will not react to or are inadequately prepared for these threat actors – and without the proper security measures in place, they are more susceptible to threats.”


Top Cybersecurity Dangers to Credit Unions


“The current threat landscape is always evolving. Still, banks  and credit unions continue to be one of the most impacted sectors,” said Hajarnis. He referred to the Federal Reserve Board’s 2022 Cybersecurity and Financial System Resilience Report, that detailed financial institutions' top cybersecurity dangers as sophisticated distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and ransomware as a service (RaaS) attacks.


“DDoS muddles the traffic of a normal traffic server – perpetrators are more often than not financially motivated. For financial institutions and credit unions, these attacks can disrupt digital transaction processes, resulting in lost business,” said Hajarnis.


He added, “RaaS has soared in 2023 and continues to proliferate across all industries. Financial institutions and credit unions are a clear target for this attack, as attackers lock and encrypt files, including critical digital agreements, until they receive a ransom payment.”

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