August 2017

Changing the security landscape for entrepreneurs

  |   Allegis News, The Latest

 

 

 

 

 

 

TechCrunch | By Robert R. Ackerman, Jr. | August 17, 2017

 

Throughout the course of human history, disruptive innovation has been required to unleash higher tiers of human potential. Think of Gutenberg and movable type, Edison and electricity or Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web.

 

We are in need of another such breakthrough today. Cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) embody vast promise for advancing civilization. But they also have given rise to seemingly intractable security exposure, including nation-state rifts, not to mention profound quandaries about the erosion of individual privacy.

 

The good news is that a new technological advance could unleash the full promise of cloud computing and put IoT on the verge of everyday use by U.S. intelligence agencies and in the private sector. This advance — two decades in the making — is called “homomorphic encryption,” and it allows data to be queried and analyzed without decrypting it.

 

Homomorphic encryption: Smashing through a technology barrier

 

“Homomorphic encryption is the Holy Grail of encryption,” says Ellison Anne Williams, a math PhD, former NSA senior researcher and co-founder and CEO of ENVEIL, a security startup that has fine-tuned a homomorphic encryption system for commercial use.

 

The explosive growth of cloud computing makes this crucial. Amazon EC2, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure have made cloud storage and processing services a major enabler of digital commerce. An enterprise that uses one of these services is effectively extending the boundary of their trusted enterprise compute environment, owned and managed by them, to an untrusted location owned and managed by a third party.

 

The problem is that there is a security gap in cloud services today. Companies routinely encrypt data kept in storage and make certain only encrypted data is transported to and from cloud storage facilities. But in order to act on this data — to, say, do a simple search or perform an analytic — both the query and the stored data must be decrypted. This creates an opportunity for an alert intruder lurking on the network to steal the data in unencrypted form.

 

The genesis of homomorphic encryption

 

Threat actors are acutely aware of this “Achilles’ heel” of cloud computing and are salivating to exploit it. We know this because business networks routinely falter and briefly expose decrypted data. When this happens, security analysts at large enterprises pay close attention. In a few cases recently, network intruders have been detected doing much the same type of reconnaissance of a company’s crown jewels.

 

The current roots of homomorphic encryption date back to 2008, when IBM researcher Craig Gentry came up with a way to perform mathematical operations on encrypted data without first needing to decrypt the data — the first working example of homomorphic encryption.

 

Trouble was, it took gargantuan computing power to make Gentry’s rudimentary prototype work. Steady progress was made over time by others, however, and today we are finally on the threshold of seeing homomorphic encryption deployed in daily business use.

 

Speaking recently at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, Jason Matheny, director of the government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), told attendees it has taken “math magic” for this technology to arrive at this point. IARPA is in the late phase of developing a database query system based on homomorphic encryption.

 

Homomorphic encryption creates new investigative opportunities

 

The embrace of homomorphic encryption is powerful. For example, authorities, acting on evidence, will be able to search travel and financial records or telephone and email logs, while, say, hot on the trail of a terrorist. And they will be able to do so without ever exposing the underlying data — personal information that belongs to the wider citizenry, muting the possibility of abusing power.

 

Computer processing power, of course, has advanced steadily since IBM’s Gentry produced his prototype. But it is really the collective brainpower of a group of math geniuses who followed him that brought us to the point we are at today. Driving efforts within the federal government and in private research labs at places like IBM and Microsoft, these highly insightful experts have been pushing the envelope.

 

Last year, Microsoft researchers smashed a homomorphic encryption speed barrier. While there is still work to be done, Kristin Lauter, a principal research manager at Microsoft, has said that initial results look very promising and that the technology could be used, for example, on specialized devices for medical or financial predictions. “We are definitely going toward making it available to customers and the community,” she told The Register, a British technology news website.

 

IBM also continues to make progress. It has been granted a patent, for instance, on a particular homomorphic encryption method. This is a strong hint that it continues to work toward a practical solution, not simply continued pursuit of theoretical research. Meanwhile, ENVEIL’s Williams, who spent years at the NSA chiseling away at a practical version of homomorphic encryption, now has 10 pending customers analyzing its proof of concept.

 

Heightened innovation and commercial disruption will occur

 

It is in the commercial arena, in particular, where homomorphic encryption is destined to be truly disruptive. To start with, it shrinks the attack surface for organizations increasingly dependent on cloud services. That alone will make compliance much easier, both in meeting data handling rules and, for governments, enforcing them. Neither is a small feat. Meeting federal rules for the handling of medical and financial records or the handling of transaction data is significantly easier for companies with well-defended networks.

 

Meanwhile, regulatory pressure to better protect data is intensifying. There is a rising tide of state-imposed data security rules, such as those recently enacted in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Colorado. In addition, there is Europe’s pending new General Data Protection Regulation, one replete with exhaustive data protection requirements and onerous penalties if they are not met.

 

A key byproduct of the elimination of the unencrypted security gap will be heightened innovation, and at an important juncture. Consider, for example, the oceans of sensitive personal information that will be collected as IoT continues to grow. Analysts will be far more inclined to gather this broad expanse of data if they know it will be protected properly. They are keenly aware of a personal privacy line that must not be crossed in mining IoT data for marketing purposes, lest consumers revolt.

 

Beyond consumerism, opportunities to enhance the world of medicine could open up with the embrace of homomorphic encryption. Imagine, for example, medical researchers being able to query millions of HIPAA-protected patient records to identify disease trends by demographics and geographic location. We could enter a golden age of medical advances.

 

No doubt, other amazing developments are sure to spin out of the mainstreaming of homomorphic encryption. Stay tuned. This disruption can change everything for the better.

 

Robert Ackerman Jr. is the founder and a managing director of Allegis Capital, an early-stage cybersecurity venture firm, and a founder of DataTribe, a startup “studio” for fledgling cyber startups staffed by former government technology innovators and cybersecurity professionals.

 

Find Article Here: Techcrunch.com

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Dragos, a Global Industrial Control System Cybersecurity Startup, Raises $10 Million in Series A Venture Capital

  |   Allegis News, Portfolio News, Series A, The Latest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funding Provided by Allegis Capital, Energy Impact Partners and DataTribe Dragos Is Building the First Industrial Cybersecurity Ecosystem

 

HANOVER, Maryland (August 14, 2017) — Dragos Inc., (pronounced Dray-gohs), an industrial control system (ICS) cybersecurity company made up of industry experts with the vision of securing global industrial infrastructure, announced today that it has received a $10 million Series A round of venture capital from co-lead investors Allegis Capital and Energy Impact Partners (EIP), with additional support from DataTribe, a cybersecurity startup studio that initially funded Dragos.

 

The Series A round will be used to increase the company’s workforce to meet rising customer demand, generated in part through key partnerships with Deloitte, the global audit and financial advisory services firm, and CrowdStrike Inc., a leader in cloud-delivered endpoint protection.

 

CRASHOVERRIDE AND DRAGOS REPORT

Dragos has attracted attention for recently producing a report on CRASHOVERRIDE, the malware used to temporarily interrupt power in the Ukraine in a widely publicized cyber-attack last December. CRASHOVERRIDE is the only known malware that disrupts the electrical grid and only the fourth known type of malware to be specifically tailored toward ICS overall.

 

Founded May 2016 and funded until this point with a seed round of $1.2 million from DataTribe, Dragos has built the first industrial cybersecurity ecosystem. This consists of three core offerings and an assessment tool – the Dragos Platform, the Dragos Threat Operations Center, Global ICS Intelligence, and CyberLens network assessment software. This combination gives customers access to technology to monitor and respond to threats in the ICS, along with intelligence to make informed decisions about threats. Services range from threat hunting to incident response, as well as lightweight software for routine assessments.

 

The company’s biggest technological differentiator is its behavioral analytics. Instead of “anomaly detection” and other types of machine learning-driven technologies that are hitting the market, the approach of Dragos is to codify human experience facing human adversaries. It identifies adversary tradecraft and turns it into behavioral analytics. As a result, defenders get context of what is going on and recommendations on what to do next, not merely a series of alerts.

 

“Dragos exists to safeguard civilization,” said Robert M. Lee, the CEO of Dragos.  “Critical infrastructure powers the global economy and the fabric of modern society. We all strongly believe that civilian infrastructure should be off limits to any adversaries, no matter where the infrastructure is located in the world.”

 

Dragos was founded by ICS cybersecurity experts Lee, Jon Lavender and Justin Cavinee, all veterans of the U.S. intelligence community. There they established a first-of-its-kind mission for the U.S. government to identify, analyze and respond to nation-states launching ICS-focused cyberattacks.

 

“Industrial control systems are unique unto themselves – hybrid digital and analog environments with very different operational temperaments,” said Bob Ackerman, the founder and a Managing Director of cybersecurity investment specialist Allegis Capital. “Unless you have lived your life in this environment, you can’t truly appreciate how different or complex ICS systems are.  With Dragos, we invested in the “A” team.”

 

“Protecting the integrity of the grid has always been a top priority for utility operators,” said Sameer Reddy, a Vice President at EIP and co-leader of the Series A financing. “One of the critical challenges is access to sufficient human capital. The Dragos platform, which is built and managed by true ICS cybersecurity experts, provides significant force multiplication to ICS operators around the world.”

 

“Energy is essential to our economy and way of life. As a result, energy infrastructure is increasingly a target,” said Thomas A. Fanning, Chairman, President and CEO of Southern Company. “As a founding investor in Energy Impact Partners, Southern Company is proud to support enhancing the resiliency of critical infrastructure, in order to better protect the communities where we live and serve.”

 

 

About Dragos Inc.

Dragos Inc., based in Hanover, Md., is the trusted authority on threats to industrial networks (ICS/IoT). The Dragos Platform is an on-premise or cloud-based security technology that continually and passively collects data to perform asset identification, detects cyber threats through industrial specific behavioral analytics, and enables better efficiency and effectiveness of security personnel through the codification of automated workflows, best practices and incident response procedures. The Dragos Platform is continually enhanced through the Dragos Threat Operations Center, a team of experts providing services that include incident response, threat hunting, and compromise assessments. Both are backed by Dragos Intelligence, which allows for the analysis of adversary intrusions and provides the industry with weekly threat intelligence reports and adds new behavioral analytics to the Dragos Platform. For more information, visit https://dragos.com.

 

About Allegis Capital 

Allegis Capital is a premier, early-stage venture firm that invests solely in cybersecurity and was the first venture fund to focus strictly on cyber. In addition to Dragos, current investments include Area 1 Security, Bracket Computing, Callsign, Cyber GRX, E8 Security, RedOwl, Shape Security, Signifyd, Synack, tCell.io and vArmour. Allegis is also a founding partner in DataTribe, a cybersecurity startup studio based in Fulton, Maryland. Allegis Capital is based in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.allegiscap.com or Twitter at @AllegisCapital.

 

About Energy Impact Partners

Energy Impact Partners is a collaborative strategic investment firm that invests in companies optimizing energy consumption and improving sustainable energy generation. Through close collaboration with its strategic investor base, EIP seeks to bring the best companies, buying power and vision in the industry to bear on the emerging energy landscape. EIP’s utility partners include Southern Company, National Grid, Xcel Energy, Ameren, Great Plains Energy, Fortis Inc., AGL, Avista, MGE Energy Inc., TEPCO, PTT Public Company Limited, OGE Energy Corp., TransCanada, and Alliant Energy. For more information, visit www.energyimpactpartners.com.

 

 

About DataTribe

DataTribe, based in Fulton, Maryland, and Silicon Valley, is a cybersecurity startup studio formed with the mission of combining breakthrough innovation in cybersecurity, Big Data and analytics. The technological base of its startups emerge from federal agencies, such as the National Security Agency, or from government research labs.  DataTribe draws upon Silicon Valley start-up expertise to help create, define and lead new market segments. As an operating company, it directly takes on the task of building startups from concept to initial customer deployments while significantly lowering risk and preserving returns. For more information, visit www.datatribe.com.

 

For media inquiries, contact Jennifer Jones at jennifer@jenniferjones.com.

Cell: 650-465-5831

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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350% more cybersecurity pros in Washington, D.C., area than rest of U.S.

  |   Allegis News, The Latest

Two entrepreneurs place a big bet on cybersecurity startups along the Capital Beltway

 

CSO | By Steve Morgan | August 7, 2017

 

Silicon Valley is home to the largest population of cybersecurity product companies in the world.

Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California, is the epicenter of technology (and cybersecurity) venture capital. Scores of venture capital (VC) firms dotting the Bay Area have made it an attractive HQ location for startups seeking funding.

Investors—especially angels and first round financiers—prefer to be close to their portfolio companies. Simply put, where there are VCs, there will be startups.

Bob Ackerman is the managing director and founder of Allegis Capital in Palo Alto, California, one of the best-known and most successful VC firms that invests into early-stage cybersecurity companies—a bulk of them hailing from Northern California.

Now Ackerman is dropping a line in the Washington, D.C., Beltway waters. His phish-finder says there’s 350 percent more cyber engineers and analysts in that area than the rest of the U.S. combined.

Mike Janke, former chairman of Silent Circle, a former Navy SEAL, and a highly respected cybersecurity industry veteran, has teamed up with Ackerman on their own startup—Fulton, Maryland-based DataTribe—a holding company that focuses on helping local entrepreneurs productize cyber technology solutions.

While the D.C. metro area is long on cybersecurity talent, it’s short on cybersecurity product companies, according to a paper written by Ackerman and Janke. They say Beltway cyber experts lack the commercial DNA essential to commercialize market growth.

DataTribe is an incubator of sorts—complete with venture capital, office space, in-house experts providing a range of start-up help, and most important—access to alumni who have transitioned to the private sector and built successful cybersecurity product companies.

While the D.C. metro area doesn’t have nearly the number of cybersecurity product companies in proportion to its local cyber talent pool compared to San Francisco or Israel (the world’s number two exporter of cybersecurity technology behind the U.S.)—it does boast an impressive and growing roster.

Cybersecurity who’s who in the D.C. metro area 

A short list of some hot, cybersecurity product-centric companies in the Virginia/Maryland/D.C. region:

Arxan, Bethesda, Md.

Centripetal, Herndon, Va.

CYREN, McLean, Va.

Daon, Washington, D.C.

Distil Networks, Arlington, Va.

Dragos, Washington, D.C.

Endgame, Arlington, Va.

ePlus Security, Herndon, Va.

GigaTrust, Herndon, Va.

Haystax, McLean, Va.

IronNet Cybersecurity, Fulton, Md.

LookingGlass, Arlington, Va.

Nehemiah Security, Tysons Corner, Va.

Novetta, McLean, Va.

Ntrepid, Herndon, Va.

Oberthur Technologies, Chantilly, Va.

PhishMe, Leesburg, Va.

Protenus, Baltimore, Md.

RedOwl, Baltimore, Md.

Risk Based Security, Richmond, Va.

Saint Corporation, Bethesda, Md.

Surfwatch Labs, Sterling, Va.

Tenable Network Security, Columbia, Md.

ThreatConnect, Arlington, Va.

ThreatQuotient, Reston, Va.

Thycotic, Washington, D.C.

TrustedKnight, Annapolis, Md.

Verisign, Reston, Va.

Virgil Security, Manassas, Va.

Virtu, Washington, D.C.

ZeroFox, Baltimore, Md.

This list doesn’t include all of the impressive product companies in the area or the much larger number of cybersecurity consulting, advisory and professional services firms.

Born and raised in D.C. 

One company, Dragos, born in Washington, D.C., is a DataTribe resident. Robert Lee, founder and CEO at Dragos, partnered with DataTribe to get his startup off the ground.

Dragos is poised to raise venture capital shortly. Lee’s venture is focused on industrial control systems (ICS) security, an emerging and fast-growing cyber sector.

The highly experienced team of ICS and IIoT security experts at Dragos will benefit from the commercialization experience that DataTribe brings. Raising a product company is a lot different than raising a services firm, and Lee is smart enough to know the difference.

Much like many of his Beltway contemporaries, Lee is an ex-cyber military expert. He pursued cybersecurity in the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a Cyber Warfare Operations Officer in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

The mashup of DataTribe and local cyber-preneurs is sure to breed new product companies in the D.C. metro area. But one startup studio will do only so much. It remains to be seen if more Sand Hill money will flow into the Beltway.

 

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