Wealthy Cyberwar: A Case Study of One Self-Made Young Rich Lister

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To make cybercriminals give up their day jobs, Kevin Gosschalk occasionally hires them.

The 33-year-old, who is now on the Financial Review Young Rich List with an estimated wealth of $36 million, spoke about the internet trolls he has to battle daily at Arkose Labs, “Yes, these people are doing the wrong thing, but they are a force of nature.”

Kevin Gosschalk is an entrepreneur at heart, and his company focuses on defending internet businesses from malicious cyber attacks. He started Arkose Labs in 2012, intending to build a global business that would change how companies protect online customers.

His approach to cybersecurity has been unconventional: Instead of simply fighting cybercriminals, he tries to understand how they think and why they do what they do. And one way of doing that is by hiring them as consultants, giving them a way to make an honest living while simultaneously protecting others from the destructive effects of their illegal activities.

“As I built my own companies, I quickly realised that there were two major threats to web businesses: hacking and fraud,” he says. “Hackers go after your data while cybercriminals extract money from your customers without their knowledge.”

Gosschalk explains that when someone uses a credit card online, their purchase is verified by a payment network that holds the account holder’s money until they confirm that the cardholder has authorised the purchase. This process is called “fraud prevention,” but he says it doesn’t prevent fraud and fails to stop criminals from abusing the system.

“We’ve had some of these people work for us on a consulting basis, and we have incredible conversations about what motivates them.”

This unconventional approach to cybercrime prevention has succeeded, partly because Gosschalk understands that hackers and cybercriminals aren’t inherently bad people. In fact, they may be some of the most brilliant and creative individuals out there.

He believes that if we want to defeat cybercrime, we need to understand it deeper. And for him, that means working with the problem rather than simply fighting it.

Gosschalk’s first taste of entrepreneurship was in high school when he started an online marketplace for media content called MovieCoup. While studying at the University of Colorado Boulder, he worked on developing new web payment systems and later founded a web development firm.

He had always been passionate about technology, but it wasn’t until much later that he became interested in cybersecurity. In 2012, after earning a master’s degree from MIT and working for several years at IBM, he was browsing job listings when he caught sight of an opening at a cybercrime firm. That led to his starting Arkose Labs, which now has offices in Boston and Denver.

Over the past six years, Gosschalk has worked tirelessly to build a robust cybersecurity company. But he has never lost sight of his goal: using technology to create a more peaceful and secure world for everyone.

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