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Interview with Manoj Leelanivas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cyphort

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Please tell us, what Cyphort is all about and what do you do?

Manoj Leelanivas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cyphort: Cyphort's next generation APT defense solution detects advanced malware, prioritizes remediation, and automates containment of cyber threats.

What is your key focus at RSA this year?

Leelanivas: Cyphort is announcing several technology partnerships including Crowdstrike, Netskope, Skyhigh Networks and DB Networks. We will also be previewing Cyphort 3.4 which features enhanced lateral detection. At first we were looking for malware threats moving laterally, now we are looking for network behaviors that our indicative of malware infections. This will greatly expand our lateral detection. Additional features include customer supplied SNORT rules, or ingestion of third-party intelligence in the form of Snort (IPS) signatures using our APIs, improved identification of threats by being able to identify a threat via email rather than IP address and identifying the end user of a threat and pulling email into the lateral framework.

These improvements and the management console further enhances our single pane of glass for APT detection and response across the perimeter, lateral, applications and platforms. Cyphort has an improved user and workflow interface and a new operations dashboard that brings more actionable information to the forefront.

Who is your target audience and how do you intend to reach them? What is the biggest challenge you face right now in telling your story and winning over new clients?

Leelanivas: Our customers are global 2000 enterprises across all industries. I would say our biggest challenge in telling the Cyphort story and reaching more clients is really educating people on this newer approach that Cyphort uses in advanced threat protection. We're truly a next generation APT product and many are still using older methods and first generation security products.

I'd be curious to hear any general thoughts you have on market trends...

Leelanivas: Modern threat defense presents many new challenges to enterprises, resulting from the sophisticated threat techniques, new threat actors like organized cybercrime groups and nation states, and the ever-evolving IT infrastructure. Advanced malware threats are fundamentally different from the threats of yesterday. Defense paradigm has shifted from being vulnerability-centric to continuous monitoring, diagnostics, and mitigation. The tools required for detecting and mitigating these threats must also evolve to support best practices based on the new defense paradigm. Despite all the marketing hype, most solutions available in the marketplace today were designed based on the old defense model, and provide only marginal improvements over the security solutions many organizations already have in place.

What is the viral aspect of your product?

Leelanivas: Our unique aspect is our dynamic detection capability. Cyphort has innovated a machine-learning based detection engine that adapts with the changing nature of threats, ensuring new zero-days, APTs and evasive threats are always detected without having to wait for new software or system updates. We also prioritize incidents based on the true business risk for the enterprise, eliminating alert overloads. We also allow our customers to create golden image sandboxes, which provide a real-world endpoint detection context.

What's the business model?

Leelanivas: We have a subscription-based virtual appliance delivery model. The subscription model gives customers more flexibility while also providing a steady reliable portrayal of security needs for budget purposes. Since the product is API-based and has software-based delivery, it allows it to be easily deployed and functions in a SaaS model. Our pricing model is based on the protected bandwidth.

Who are your competitors?

Leelanivas: Our direct competitors include FireEyE and Palo Alto Wildfire.

How do you differentiate from your competitors?

Leelanivas: Cyphort differs from our competitors in that it detects APTs that evade 1st generation APT solutions, remediates attacks faster with greater understanding of threats and associated risk through machine learning, deploys as software, hardware, or VMs across the organization, and all without blowing your budget on costly appliances. We are the only solution that provides the complete incident on a single pane of glass view, correlating all information from the perimeter or laterally moving in the enterprise.

How does your technology differentiate from the competition and can you elaborate on the different technology deployed?

Leelanivas: We use an array of sandboxes, cooking potential threats with behavioral analysis and machine learning engines, so that even if a threat hasn't been seen before, we can detect it. Another differentiating factor is our deployment model. We aren't limited to a piece of hardware. We are often deployed in a virtual environment and our open OS and API can be integrated into other vendor tools. We're very easy to interface with. We are the only solution that correlates threats from the perimeter like Web and Email with threats laterally moving with in the enterprise between users and between servers.

What business or technology could yours disrupt?

Leelanivas: Since the security landscape is already fast paced and ever-evolving, as are the new security products to mitigate threats. In a sense, security products such as Cyphort disrupts the security space itself by providing the next generation APT solution that not only utilizes machine learning and sandbox based payload analysis to stay on top of and learn from the new threats that are discovered, but additional context providing groundbreaking lateral detection. Additionally, Cyphort can be used in conjunction and can be easily integrated with other security solutions for enhanced protection.

Who founded the company, when? What can you tell me about the story of the company's founding?

Leelanivas: Cyphort was founded in 2011 by a team of security experts including Dr. Fengmin Gong, who was one of the founders of Palo Alto Networks and is currently our Chief Strategy Officer. Our team has held leadership and technical positions at FireEye, McAfee, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Symantec, Blue Coat, IronPort, and more.

What is your distribution model? Where to buy your product?

Leelanivas: You can buy our product either through direct sales or through our Value Added Resellers or Distribution partners. We are licensed as a software subscription, Boundary & Enterprise. Cyphort boundary license allows customers to deploy Cyphort sensors at their network boundary for inspecting incoming/outgoing traffic. Enterprise includes boundary functionality & adds ability to detect internal threat activity & lateral movement. Subscriptions are priced by the total amount of bandwidth a customer is trying to scan & includes the cost of software, threat intelligence service & customer support.

What's next on your product roadmap?

Leelanivas: Scaling our company and product is our biggest priority. Later this year, we will expand our field of supported endpoints and improve depth of data exchange, and grow our partnerships. We also want to continue to add to our lateral detection capabilities, and add other sources that provide more context on our single pane of glass view for advanced threats.

Are you targeting a first VC round? If yes when and what will you use the funds for?

Leelanivas: In June 2015 we raised a $30 Million Series C funding round and are currently not looking for more funds.

Company's twitter @Cyphort
CEO personal twitter @mleelanivas
Company website: http://www.cyphort.com/
Company Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/cyphort

Cyphort is the next generation APT defense solution for enterprise organizations. Cyphort provides a single pane of glass across perimeter and laterally moving threats, correlates threat signals before and after an incident, while eliminating noise from false alerts and red herrings. Cyphort has leveraged the power of machine learning and data science to build a next generation threat detection engine that evolves ahead of the threats. A virtualized deployment model combined with open API based integration allows customers to address APT security gaps across global locations while leveraging their existing investments in perimeter and endpoint security for threat defense. Cyphort is a privately held company headquartered in Santa Clara. For more information, please visit www.cyphort.com and follow us @Cyphort.

About Xenia von Wedel
Xenia von Wedel is a Tech blogger and Enterprise Media Consultant in Silicon Valley and Paris, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. She is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, media outreach and strategy. She mainly writes about Blockchain, Enterprise, B2B solutions, social media and open source software, but throws the occasional oddball into the mix. Tip her if you like her articles: http://xeniar.tip.me

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