Zscaler – In Zero We Trust

Zenith Live 2021 Virtual Event ZSCALER

Earlier this week, I attended the fourth annual Zscaler Zenith Live event. RSA Conference is regarded by many as the perennial annual cybersecurity event, but I honestly found Zenith Live more informative on several fronts. Today, I would like to share my insights into what I found most compelling at the event.

Three components to zero trust  

Zero trust has quickly become a whitewash in the cybersecurity industry. Much like artificial intelligence and machine learning, many IT infrastructure providers claim to offer zero trust capabilities. Zscaler and its nearly 15-years old proxy-based architecture is different from my perspective for three reasons. First, Zscaler’s Zero Network Access authenticates users to an application rather than provide direct network access to prevent lateral movement. This feature is a significant capability given the multitude of breaches initiated through IoT sensors as well as the famous fish tank thermometer in a casino. If you want to read about that hack, you can find the details here

Second, Zscaler’s Zero Attack Surface aims to hide source identities and eliminate an attack surface by making applications invisible. I loved the faux hacker video interviews during Zenith Live in which each complained about an inability to do their jobs given this Zscaler capability. With that said, this is an impressive capability. Third, Zscaler’s Zero Passthrough Connections leverage a proxy architecture that denies privileges for robust threat prevention and data protection. In aggregate, these capabilities deliver unparalleled protection for companies of all sizes. 

Zscaler executive insights 

CEO, Chairman, and Founder Jay Chaudhry opened the event speaking to Zscaler’s unique cloud approach to cybersecurity, which he claims delivers better performance, visibility and threat prevention and management. Cloud also provides better scalability, and as witnessed during the height of the pandemic, scale is crucial to support safe, work-from-home connectivity for the masses. I also found the Zscaler ThreatLabZ event breakout interesting. CISO and VP Deepen Desai spoke to the company’s significant capabilities in its visibility of emerging attacks and countermeasures. Zscaler claims that its ThreatLabZ is the world’s largest security cloud platform on the planet and that it blocks on average 150M threats daily–an impressive statistic! 

Chief Marketing Officer Chris Kozup also took the virtual stage to host an intriguing session with Bitcoin Billionaires author Ben Mezrich, whose other books have been the basis for movies, including “21” and “The Social Network”. I know Mr. Kozup personally from his days leading marketing at HPE Aruba. He is a humble, pragmatic executive who brings significant experience from Aruba and other market leaders in Cisco and Nutanix. I believe he will be instrumental in contributing to Zscaler’s long-term success.

I  also had the good fortune to spend time with Zscaler executives before the event. Scott Simkin is a passionate leader of security product marketing. Mr. Simkin has only been with Zscaler for less than a year, but you would not know it after speaking with him. He and I talked about the company’s recent acquisition of Smokescreen and the capabilities it presents. In a nutshell, Zscaler claims that Smokescreen’s active defense features, which proactively disrupt attacks, give it a competitive advantage. The result is Zscaler Managed Threat Hunting, an industry-first solution that combines active defense with threat intelligence and hunting. 

Wrapping up

I am impressed with Zscaler’s cloud, proxy-based architecture. Security is hot these days, and there seem to be cybersecurity start-ups popping up weekly as venture capital firms seek to hit a home run. I believe Zscaler is well-positioned to emerge from the pack. One only has to look at the company’s revenue growth from $242M at its IPO in 2019, to today, where the company will likely land north of $650M given its recent financial guidance. It is an impressive growth trajectory, and if Zscaler can stay ahead of its competitors, it will not be long until the company hits the magical $1B sales mark.