Cybersecurity is a hot topic these days on many fronts. Hacks related to SolarWinds, in an ironic twist, exposed FireEye, considered a perennial security provider. The Colonial Pipeline hack also raised significant concerns. As a result, the Biden administration issued an executive order in May and an additional memorandum in late July that aims to provide guidelines for addressing the growing threat of bad actors.
Amidst it all, there has been a flood of both startups and well-established companies that are vying to address the security needs of local, state, and federal governmental agencies, educational institutions, healthcare providers, online and brick and mortar retailers and others. There are three cybersecurity companies that I find particularly intriguing right now, and I wanted to share my insights into their respective strategies
At Black Hat USA 2021 this week, Airgap launched the general availability of its security platform after approximately one and a half years of product development. The company seeks to address what it perceives as three fundamental networking infrastructure flaws making organizations vulnerable to ransomware attacks:
- lateral threat movement over shared VLANs,
- lack of identity and intent checking with static firewall policies, and
- the need to identify a more sophisticated way of managing ransomware attacks short of the blunt approach of shutting down networks.
Airgap aims to solve these challenges by ringfencing every endpoint, applying multi-factor authentication everywhere and delivering a rapid, targeted response with its Ransomware Kill Switch feature. Likened to the United States’ DEFCON readiness status, Airgap defines ransomware postures green, yellow, orange and red. Each delivers a set of responses appropriate for the corresponding threat level. Company executives recently took me through a demo on its corporate network, and I found the dashboard to be highly intuitive and easy to manage.
My hot take: Founder and CEO Ritesh Agrawal brings tremendous credibility to Airgap, having spent several years at Juniper Networks in senior roles leading switching and security. I left the conversation convinced that he clearly understands the challenges enterprises and service providers face in securing networks. I also believe that the Airgap Ransomware Kill Switch feature is potentially a game-changer if it delivers on its promise of networked device scalability.
SentinelOne recently went public on June 30th and, following its close, made history as the highest valued cybersecurity IPO on record. Markets have responded favorably as its stock value continues to increase due to its value proposition. At a high level, the company claims that its Singularity XDR (Extended Detection and Response) platform can proactively resolve threats in real-time at the computing and cloud edge. It does this by leveraging artificial intelligence to cover prevention, detection, response and threat hunting across multiple domains.
My hot take: Many cybersecurity solution providers claim artificial intelligence as a critical architectural tenant, and the company is competing with well-established incumbents in Crowdstrike, Microsoft, McAfee and Symantec. However, if SentinelOne delivers on the promise of proactive threat prevention, it should be well-positioned to take market share.
In June, I attended Zscaler’s Zenith Live event and learned of the company’s differentiated approach to zero trust. If you are interested in my insights, you can find that article here. At a high level, many cybersecurity solutions promise zero trust capabilities, but many are incomplete. Of the three companies in this article, Zscaler is the more mature given its 15-year old proxy-based architecture. Its features include the prevention of lateral movement with application versus direct network access, the ability to make applications invisible to hackers, and sophisticated, active threat prevention and data protection (thanks to its recent acquisition of active defense provider Smokescreen).
My hot take: Zscaler seems to be hitting on all cylinders. The proof is in adoption, and the company boasts impressive Security-as-a-Service wins with the U.S. Department of Defense, Coca-Cola Consolidated (the largest bottler of Coke products in the U.S.), Johnson Controls, and Phoenix Children's Hospital, among many others. Zscaler’s promise to make applications invisible to bad actors is an impressive proposition.
Regardless of an organization's size or industry, cybersecurity management is a challenging endeavor. Threats are constantly changing and hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts. Each of these companies shows tremendous promise in the ongoing cybersecurity battle.