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Network security startup Balbix launches with $8M funding from Mayfield

(Image credit: Image Credit: Wright Studio / Shutterstock)

On June 6, Balbix (opens in new tab)announced it came out of stealth with $8M funding from Mayfield and a product they say is the security industry’s first predictive breach-risk platform. The Balbix predictive breach risk platform, which was developed for CISOs and CIOs, calculates and visualises an enterprise’s cyber-breach risk and resilience across all devices, users and apps in its extended network. The system can be used to predict top breach scenarios, prioritise security mitigations and provide risk insights to prevent security incidents before attacks happen. 

The company’s Founder and CEO Gaurav Banga has a strong track record in cyber-security and pioneered the concept of micro-virtualisation, a signatureless approach to stop malware attacks. Previously, Dr Banga founded the endpoint security company Bromium to bring micro-virtualisation to market and served as its CEO for over five years. 

In his June 6 blog (opens in new tab), Mayfield Managing Partner and Balbix board member Navin Chaddha wrote, “Cybersecurity remains a top concern for enterprises. Fears of hacking and data loss are constantly making news around the globe.  On the front pages of major media outlets, anxiety-stoking news made internet security a constant presence this past year. From Target, Department of State, Heartbleed, Sony, DNC, Disney, WannaCry, Yahoo!, the U.S. elections … the drumroll continues unabated. We are now in a world, where it’s a matter of when, not if, an enterprise is hacked. I call this the post-hacked world.  Hence, building cyber-resilience has become a key priority for the C-suite.

Chaddha believes that building cyber-resilience is key in the post-hacked world as the attack surface has increased through the adoption of IoT devices, BYOD and the cloud. Chaddha believes that Balbix resolves the critical need of CISOs to get ahead of the adversary by enabling them to understand their cyber risk and act to limit the likelihood and impact of attacks.  

He said, “Gaurav has drawn upon his entrepreneurial and deep security expertise and assembled a world-class team that has delivered the industry’s first predictive and prescriptive breach risk assessment platform.” 

Several security firsts

According to Balbix, the company has introduced the market’s first platform to use predictive analytics and AI to automatically measure breach risk and calculate resilience. It works by deploying specialised sensors across the enterprise to continuously discover and monitor all devices, apps and users across hundreds of attack methods and indicators of business impact. The telemetry data is then analysed by advanced self-learning algorithms and used to build a bottom-up risk model. Shortly after installing these sensors, security teams can visualise their breach risk and use this to prioritise operations and projects.

A few of the “industry-first” features include a risk heat-map, which automatically monitors and analyses an enterprise network 24/7/365 across hundreds of attack vectors to provide a real-time, searchable and clickable color-coded map of the enterprise. This helps over-burdened security teams prioritise mitigation projects by identifying areas of highest risk and surfacing actionable insights.

The platform also features predictive risk analytics. Specifically, Balbix predicts breach scenarios by analysing indicators of risk, factors that point to the future likelihood of occurrence of security incidents, such as user clickthrough behaviour indicating high phishing risk. In contrast, existing products rely on indicators of attack or compromise based on security events that have already happened. 

Balbix can also compute the effectiveness of security mitigations already implemented and help prioritise planned security projects. The system measures organisations’ cyber-resilience – the ability to limit the impact of security incidents.   

Why the C-suite should care

The industry need for risk-management solutions, including analytics that predict the impact of business risk, is growing. According to a March 2017, Gartner report, “Definition: Integrated Risk Management Solutions,” by John Wheeler, “Gartner also notes a shift to greater investment in risk-based approaches designed to respond more effectively to the growing cybersecurity and related digital business demands facing organisations today. With this shift in investment, Gartner forecasts that the IRM solution market will grow from $3.9 billion in 2015 to $7.3 billion by 2020, representing a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4 per cent.” 

These findings validate a recent survey (opens in new tab)conducted by Balbix, which included 600 participants, including 250 from the Fortune 500, in which nearly 100 per cent of respondents expressed concern about the rapidly expanding attack surface, while 87 per cent said they were worried about lateral movement by attackers. 

Automate risk assessment to reduce costs

In addition to proactively identifying risk and thwarting attack spread, Balbix says they address the increasingly relevant issue of security spend versus value with an automated risk-measurement capability. Enterprises with 10,000 devices typically pay around $250,000 for two penetration tests (pen tests) a year (opens in new tab). Relying on pen testing to find vulnerabilities or validate compliance is not ideal because the state of the enterprise changes every day. Balbix can increase an organisation’s ROI by offering continuous risk measurements at annual costs comparable to or lower than a single pen test. 

Balbix also announced its first customer. Abe Smith, director of enterprise security at Cavium said, “Today, it is incumbent upon us to assess our risk environment and protect ourselves from advanced threats targeting new technologies and devices, so that we don’t suffer a breach, lose our intellectual property or get hit with compliance penalties down the road.” He added that Balbix allows them to get ahead of their threat environment by proactively identifying the most significant sources of risk in their network and prioritising those gaps for remediation, enabling them to tightly – and accurately – focus their security spending and reduce costs. 

Banga added, “Today, security teams are forced to rely on a set of reactive security tools, with no real way to predict how or where a breach is most likely to hit next.” He said it’s very difficult for security practitioners to assess the true risk posture of an enterprise and communicate this to senior management or the board of directors. He believes that by automating predictive risk calculations and providing clear visualisation, his platform will let companies know what’s most important, so they can channel their security spending where it’s needed most. To him, this is key to improving cyber-resilience.

Rick Popko, Account Director, 10Fold (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: Wright Studio / Shutterstock