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Univ. Spin-Off Develops New Cybersecurity Paradigm


(bykst, Pixabay)

28 July 2016. A start-up enterprise from a technology university in Switzerland is developing a simplified cybersecurity infrastructure for businesses, and raised $2 million in its first venture funding round. Cyberhaven, a spin-off company from Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, or EPFL, is also opening a new office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The company is commercializing a cybersecurity paradigm designed in the lab of computer scientist George Candea that explores challenges to the security and safety of large-scale complex systems, often written by many different programmers. Candea, a Cyberhaven founder, is also the company chairman, with alumni from his lab providing most of the company’s leadership. Cyberhaven says its technology is the result of 7 years of research at EPFL and is protected by 4 patents licensed to the company.

Most businesses and government agencies, says Cyberhaven, rely on enterprise-wide perimeter solutions to ward off hackers, while few executives feel confident about that technology. “Large enterprises and government agencies often deploy antivirus software to satisfy legal obligations or to meet contractual requirements,” says Candea in an EPFL statement, “not because they really believe that the software can defend them.”

The results of a hack on a business can be crippling. The company cites data from IBM estimating the cost of an average breach to an organization at $4 million.

Cyberhaven’s technology tailors security to a business’s workflows, in effect countering the process employed by hackers that prepare malware and intrusions aimed at a company’s specific vulnerabilities, particularly with cloud-based software, such as Office 365 and Google Apps. The company’s process establishes a safe-haven where encryption protects against unauthorized access, but also provides a constant deep analysis of the integrity of data and documents in that workflow. This approach, says the company, can simplify a client’s security infrastructure.

“Instead of building a fortress with many weak walls,” notes Candea, “we protect individual workflows that correspond to users’ activities, such as the preparation of a quarterly financial report or the negotiation of a new inter-governmental agreement. By combining document encryption with Cyberhaven, it will no longer be necessary to use dozens of different security products to protect yourself. This will make your security infrastructure simpler and stronger.”

The company says in a recent third-party test, Cyberhaven’s process caught all 144 attacks prepared by computer security professionals. Other modern solutions, using heuristic analytical methods to anticipate previously unknown methods, stopped 20 of the 144 attacks. Anti-virus software, says the company, stopped just 1.

Cyberhaven was founded in early 2015, and already booked some $640,000 in revenues. The new financing is led by Accomplice, a technology industry venture capital company, joined by other undisclosed industry investors. The funds are expected to support Cyberhaven’s new Cambridge, Massachusetts office, as well as continue its product R&D in Switzerland. The company’s new Cambridge office will be led by co-founder and CEO Vova Kuznetsov, which aims to better position Cyberhaven to serve the large U.S. market.

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