Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, May 17, 2022

SoftBank Invests in Analytics-Based Cyber Startup 

A huge investment by Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank Group in an up-and-coming cyber security startup leaves little doubt that enterprises are looking for ways to design more security features into embattled global IT networks.

Cybereason announced Wednesday (June 21) that SoftBank (TOKYO: 9984) will invest $100 million in the cyber security firm that specializes in end-point threat detection and response. Formed in 2012, the startup has so far raised $189 million in four funding rounds.

Other investors include Charles River Ventures, Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) and Spark Capital. SoftBank's investment is separate from its huge Vision Fund that committed more than $93 billion in technology investments in May.

Cybereason is based in Boston, with offices in London, Tel Aviv and Tokyo.

The startup's "hunting engine" seeks to help enterprises regain the offensive as cyber attacks grow in breadth and sophistication. Its platform is based on proprietary in-memory graph that leverages analytics to detect behavioral patterns across network endpoints. "We know how to spot potential attacker activities and we can accurately distinguish between good and bad behavior," Lior Div, Cybereason's CEO and co-founder, told CNBC.

A response dashboard visualizes network activity to reduce the amount of time spent gathering data. The automation tools also are designed to reduce the number of false alarms so security analyst can prioritize threats and focus on those posing the greater risk.

"We have a big problem to solve — to protect the world’s information and people in the new era of open and connected systems," Div stressed in a blog post. "We just can’t rest until we give enterprises everywhere the upper hand over the adversary."

That approach reflects the steady shift toward leveraging analytical tools and bottleneck-breaking technologies such as in-memory platforms to provide real-time threat detection capabilities. Those requirements are growing as malware and other attacks proliferate and persist. For example, global companies are still reeling from last month's WannaCry attack, including a factory shutdown earlier this week at Honda (NYSE: HMC) auto assembly plant in Japan after a ransomware attack was detected on its network.

Cybereason said its cyber security software and monitoring services are used by "hundreds" of Fortune 1000 companies, including some that were hit with the WannaCry attack. The ransomware exploit spread quickly around the globe and is estimated to have infected more than 200,000 computers.

Cyber-security analysts warn that WannaCry is just one variant of the lingering attack, and organizations ranging from hospitals to manufacturers remain vulnerable to "thread-level attacks" in which backdoors continue to be installed while network credentials are stolen and user data encrypted.

Cybereason and other threat detection startups are attempting to level the playing field as the frequency of malware and other attacks grows. Cybereason's mission "is to stop the adversary from gaining an unfair advantage by giving our customers the upper hand," Div asserted.


About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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