Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Tuesday, September 29, 2020
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Zscaler Acquires Network Security Startup 

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Zscaler Inc. is doubling down in its drive to dominate the market for “zero trust” security frameworks with its second acquisition in about six weeks.

The cloud security specialist said Thursday (May 28) it is acquiring Edgewise Networks, a four-year-old Boston area startup focused on securing communications among applications running in cloud and datacenter networks.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In April, San Jose-based Zscaler, (NASDAQ: ZS) acquired Cloudneeti, which specializes in self-service “workload assurance” tools, giving Zscaler a new capability for fixing infrastructure misconfigurations. The Cloudneeti deal was expected to close by then end of May.

The acquisition of Edgewise Network addresses growing enterprise requirements to detect security threats that can spread rapidly across a network from a single compromised server. The startup’s tools focus on securing so-called “east-west,” or lateral, network traffic by verifying application software and other services.

The result, Zscaler said, is a zero-trust environment in which no one inside or outside a network is trusted by default. The security approach is said to reduce cloud and datacenter attack surfaces, thereby reducing data breaches and application hacks.

The startup’s zero-trust approach discovers individual applications and their legitimate communication patterns. AI and machine learning algorithms are then used to automatically enforce authorized communication to provide a security layer called application segmentation. That approach isolates distinct service tiers from one another within an application to create security boundaries that reduce exposure to attacks originating from other applications.

“We believe this is a far superior approach than legacy network segmentation for security,” Zscaler said.

“Edgewise is highly innovative technology that enables application segmentation without having to do traditional network segmentation which is often done with virtual firewalls,” Jay Chaudhry, chairman and CEO of Zscaler, said in announcing the acquisition.

The zero-trust security framework is geared to the growing number enterprise multi-cloud deployments that increasing use micro-services to deliver distributed applications. The many moving parts create more opportunities for security breaches via compromised servers and applications.

The Edgewise framework uses a technique called software identity verification to secure network traffic carried across public and hybrid clouds, datacenter and application containers.

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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