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March 28, 2016 Issue

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Real-Time Dynamic Deception Solution that Detects Intrusions inside the Network, Data Center and Cloud – Stopping Cyber Attacks by luring and revealing Bots/APTs

 

 

Tushar Kothari

Chief Executive Officer

 

Attivo Networks

www.attivonetworks.com

 

Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – March 28, 2016

 

CEOCFO: Mr. Kothari, how is Attivo Networks the leader in dynamic deception technology?

Mr. Kothari: We have become a leader because our technology is so effective some of the biggest brands in the world are purchasing it. 

 

Dynamic deception lures hackers away from real corporate data to servers that have false information. We are the only company that uses actual servers rather than emulated ones that way they appear so real the attackers are easily enticed to attack them. Once they hit our servers, we do not let them out no matter what they try, in effect neutralizing them and giving our customers a chance to examine them and make sure attacks like theirs do not come through in the future.

 

CEOCFO: How are you able to know what is a threat? How do you measure a threat?

Mr. Kothari: No one should be engaging with our servers so if that happens we know immediately that the network has been attacked. We measure a threat by letting the attack continue within the safety of what we call our BOTsink. It effectively traps the attacker so we can determine exactly what they are after and how they are acting. This gives our customers full forensic information about the attack so they can neutralize this specific attack and give the exterior defenses the information they need to be more effective.

 

CEOCFO: Is luring the attacker a brand new idea? How did you come upon this approach?

Mr. Kothari: The concept has been around forever, but it is absolutely a brand new idea in corporate cyber defense. More and more attacks were making it past existing defenses so we thought there was a great need to catch these attackers once they were inside the network.  It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Throughout history, whenever man wanted to catch animals we designed enticing lures to attract them to our traps. Our idea was to do the same thing by developing false credentials the attackers normally use to gain access to data like your social security number, credit card numbers or sensitive corporate information. These false credentials lead attackers to our servers where once they engage, they are in effect trapped. Our servers are placed all over the network, therefore, no matter where the attacker goes, our deception lures can lead him to attack one of these servers. It is very analogous to creating a very nice platter with just the right amount cheese on it to make it enticing and then placing it strategically around the network so that any malicious attack that comes in will be caught. While this takes a lot of sophisticated technology that simple idea is the core idea we had when we started this company. We thought it made a lot of sense as it is the most efficient way to catch the attackers and we were right.

 

CEOCFO: Might the attacker realize that if something is too easy to find, it is not real? Do you see that is a problem down the line when you become available to many people? How do you get the right level to intrigue the attacker without them passing it by because it seems too good to be true?

Mr. Kothari: We innovate all the time to stay well ahead of the attackers. The servers and services that we deploy inside the customer’s network are very authentic. There is nothing fake about them. In fact, we let our customers further customize these traps by adding deceptive versions of their actual files. If you are an attacker looking at everything inside a particular network, there is no easy way to figure out what is real and what is not. To figure out that our lures are not real would require an attacker to look inside our servers, using fake user credentials. The way our technology works, if somebody does that, it is clear indicator of a threat and we will detect that immediately. In addition, it is not possible for them to open the door, come in and say, “I don’t like this, it looks too easy. I am going to go back out.” By then, it is too late.

 

CEOCFO: When you are speaking with a potential client, do they understand immediately? Are they excited by you’re approach?

Mr. Kothari: There is a very strong resonance with customers. The customers see this as a key gap in their network security. They are doing everything to defend the perimeter just as if you would lock all the doors and windows in your own home. However, if something comes through, they need a very efficient way to catch it. When we describe our approach, it really resonates with the customers for multiple reasons. First, they immediately understand that it is a foolproof way to detect attacks. There are no false alerts which are so distracting to security people today since the only alert they get is when someone engages with our servers—and only attackers will. Second, it is very efficient. We are not disruptive to their network traffic, which is very important to them. It is just like where you put a trap in your house. You do not want it to be in the way so you put it in the corner so it is not disrupting the function of the household. Our technology does not interfere with the normal function of the network.

 

CEOCFO: What types of companies have been early adopters? Is there a common thread?

Mr. Kothari: We are seeing great traction in financial services, government agencies who are high value targets, health care organizations, technology companies, and customers who have a lot of Intellectual property to protect. The majority of our customers tend to be Fortune 500 customers who have a lot to lose if an attacker breaks through their defenses.

 

Our typical customers are very sophisticated and have already deployed all existing state of the art prevention technologies. They understand the gaps in their security system and they agree that they will be breached at some point in time and will need the capabilities to detect and neutralize the breach early in its attack cycle.

 

CEOCFO: How do you get attention?

Mr. Kothari: Because the number of breaches is increasing, every company believes they must look at any new security technology. When we talk to prospects, they realize right away that we have a very innovative, unique approach that solves one of the most important challenges for the security leaders inside our prospects today. We offer by far the most elegant and efficient way to detect attackers inside the customer’s networks.

 

The whole idea behind our solution makes a lot of sense and as such, the customers gravitate towards it. They want to explore more and understand more.

 

CEOCFO: Do you have several versions?

Mr. Kothari: Attivo has one core detection platform called BOTsink, which is capable of providing multiple operating systems and multiple services that would typically be of interest to an attacker. As I mentioned before, we have the capability to allow our customers to match our deception servers and services as closely as they want to their real systems. So we have one solution that can be modified to fit any customer environment. 

 

CEOCFO: Would a company typically use this in conjunction with other security products? Does it matter to you what else they might be running?

Mr. Kothari: Yes. We are not a replacement for any of the current technologies they have. We are creating a new layer with deception-based technology to what companies calls their “defense in depth”. This means that any one solution must work with all the existing solutions but add significant value. For example, many years ago, firewalls became a standard layer of technology and then a few years ago they all upgraded them to the next generation of firewalls. That was followed by Sandbox technology that sits behind the firewall to see if something malicious is coming through. Now we are creating a new layer of protection inside the network in the event that an attacker manages to break through or bypass current prevention capabilities.

 

CEOCFO: What is involved in implementation?

Mr. Kothari: Setting up our system is very easy because we don’t have to incorporate into existing network traffic and no traffic needs to be directed to us which can be very disruptive, effect network performance and take a great deal of time to deploy. This means we can set up our engagement servers throughout the network and merely create false credentials at points that are typically most vulnerable to attackers. The whole process can be up and running in days.

 

CEOCFO: What have you learned in the time that the product has been available? What has changed?

Mr. Kothari: We have evolved dramatically as we continue to get feedback from the customers. Over time our deception technology has become more and more authentic and indistinguishable from our customer’ real assets, so that an attacker has a very difficult time in differentiating between what is deceptive and what is real. We have made tremendous strides on that front. We also have been focused on coming up with ways to scale and deploy our technology very easily so there is a lot of innovation there. We are improving how we insert and provide our deceptive credentials into the network access points, and finally we are enhancing our platform so it is capable of handling new and complex attacks. One of our most recent additions protects the devices that are involved in controlling critical oil, gas, energy and utilities. This has been critically important to our customers who provide the infrastructure and services that keep civilization running. They cannot afford to have their assets crippled by cyber-attacks. The effect would be devastating.

Ultimately, we are constantly looking for ways to make it as easy as possible for our customers to deploy deception technology no matter how large or complex their network is and what malicious attacks they may face.

 

CEOCFO: What is you global reach today?

Mr. Kothari: We are primarily focused in North America. We have a lot of opportunity here and we expect the government to become a big segment for us later this year, so we are going to stay very focused on capitalizing on the opportunities and customer deployments in North America first.

 

However, we recently announced a partnership to enter the market in Japan and we just opened an office in the Middle East. We will definitely be expanding further into other international markets since the problems we solve are universal.

 

CEOCFO: Was there a particular reason you went to Japan or more opportunisitic?

Mr. Kothari: Japan is a very interesting security sensitive market, and we were able to partner with one of the leading distributors in Japan called Macnica Networks, to introduce our technology into the Japanese market. Macnica Networks is the top distributor for other major security companies like FireEye and MacAfee Intel and our technology is a nice compliment to these solutions. Together we can create a complete and integrated cyber defense solution for end customers.

 

CEOCFO: What has been most valuable in moving the company forward?

Mr. Kothari: Our focus on innovation, it is a core theme we have at Attivo Networks and the mindset we have is to be very focused on our customers’ needs as they evolve. Our customers have been instrumental in helping us see where we can add value, as well as to promote the Attivo solution throughout the security community. Those two things really propel us toward our ultimate goal: customer success.

 

CEOCFO: How is your customer support a step above others? What do you do that is different from other technology companies?

Mr. Kothari: I think one of the biggest differentiators we have is our people. We have handpicked some of the best in the industry for our engineering and technical support organization. All have come from very comprehensive backgrounds in the security space. We bring a lot of value and knowledge to our customers and our customers really rely on us for guidance and advice on what is the best way to deploy this layer of technology and how to make the solution most effective. That has really been the hallmark of our customer engagement. Ultimately, what differentiates us of course is the unique technology that we bring to the table.

 

CEOCFO: Are you funded for the next steps? Are you seeing partnership or investments?

Mr. Kothari: We are a well-funded company. We continue to look for partnerships because we want to make our solution very attractive to corporate and government customers. We have announced partnerships with other infrastructure manufacturers so that we can complement and extend the value of their technologies. We are going to continue to look for more partnerships that help our customers improve the efficiency and speed of cyber defense. We see that accelerating in the next 6 months. We will be announcing new partnerships with security infrastructure and cloud service providers on a regular basis.

 

CEOCFO: What has surprised you through the whole process at Attivo?

Mr. Kothari: The biggest surprise was that when we started this company, we thought that the market might be more interested in risk prevention than a detection solution. However, in the last 12 to18 months we have seen so many well publicized breaches that we feel vindicated in our early position that people need to invest in detection beyond prevention. The surprise has been the rate at which the idea has been accepted by the market. CIOs will tell you that they all expect to be breached and it is not a question of “if”, just a question of when.

 

CEOCFO: Why is Attivo Networks such an important company?

Mr. Kothari: Our customers tell us we are. Attivo Networks is very important because we bring a new approach and layer of technology into play that meets the new security problem facing companies today: what they do to protect their data after they have been breached.

 

By injecting deception, we make an attacker’s life very difficult and it is nearly impossible for them to succeed in an attack. We are helping our customers turn the tables on attackers by making their job much more difficult while our customers benefit from the shear efficiency and effectiveness of our solution. We handle an extremely wide variety of attacks; protect a comprehensive number of installations; complement existing security solutions; are easy to install; and can scale to the size necessary to protect any global network. That is why we have seen the kind of interest from prospects and continued close engagement with our customers today.



 

“More and more attacks were making it past existing defenses so we thought there was a great need to catch these attackers once they were inside the network. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Throughout history, whenever man wanted to catch animals we designed enticing lures to attract them to our traps. Our idea was to do the same thing by developing false credentials the attackers normally use to gain access to data like your social security number, credit card numbers or sensitive corporate information. These false credentials lead attackers to our servers where once they engage, they are in effect trapped. Our servers are placed all over the network, therefore, no matter where the attacker goes, our deception lures can lead him to attack one of these servers. It is very analogous to creating a very nice platter with just the right amount cheese on it to make it enticing and then placing it strategically around the network so that any malicious attack that comes in will be caught.”- Tushar Kothari


 

Attivo Networks

www.attivonetworks.com

 

Contact:

Tushar Kothari

tkothari@attivonetworks.com

510.623.1000


 


 

 



 

 


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