Feb
11
2021
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Base Operations raises $2.2 million to modernize physical enterprise security

Typically when we talk about tech and security, the mind naturally jumps to cybersecurity. But equally important, especially for global companies with large, multinational organizations, is physical security — a key function at most medium-to-large enterprises, and yet one that to date, hasn’t really done much to take advantage of recent advances in technology. Enter Base Operations, a startup founded by risk management professional Cory Siskind in 2018. Base Operations just closed their $2.2 million seed funding round and will use the money to capitalize on its recent launch of a street-level threat mapping platform for use in supporting enterprise security operations.

The funding, led by Good Growth Capital and including investors like Magma Partners, First In Capital, Gaingels and First Round Capital founder Howard Morgan, will be used primarily for hiring, as Base Operations looks to continue its team growth after doubling its employe base this past month. It’ll also be put to use extending and improving the company’s product and growing the startup’s global footprint. I talked to Siskind about her company’s plans on the heels of this round, as well as the wider opportunity and how her company is serving the market in a novel way.

“What we do at Base Operations is help companies keep their people in operation secure with ‘Micro Intelligence,’ which is street-level threat assessments that facilitate a variety of routine security tasks in the travel security, real estate and supply chain security buckets,” Siskind explained. “Anything that the chief security officer would be in charge of, but not cyber — so anything that intersects with the physical world.”

Siskind has firsthand experience about the complexity and challenges that enter into enterprise security since she began her career working for global strategic risk consultancy firm Control Risks in Mexico City. Because of her time in the industry, she’s keenly aware of just how far physical and political security operations lag behind their cybersecurity counterparts. It’s an often overlooked aspect of corporate risk management, particularly since in the past it’s been something that most employees at North American companies only ever encounter periodically when their roles involve frequent travel. The events of the past couple of years have changed that, however.

“This was the last bastion of a company that hadn’t been optimized by a SaaS platform, basically, so there was some resistance and some allegiance to legacy players,” Siskind told me. “However, the events of 2020 sort of turned everything on its head, and companies realized that the security department, and what happens in the physical world, is not just about compliance — it’s actually a strategic advantage to invest in those sort of services, because it helps you maintain business continuity.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, increased frequency and severity of natural disasters, and global political unrest all had significant impact on businesses worldwide in 2020, and Siskind says that this has proven a watershed moment in how enterprises consider physical security in their overall risk profile and strategic planning cycles.

“[Companies] have just realized that if you don’t invest [in] how to keep your operations running smoothly in the face of rising catastrophic events, you’re never going to achieve the profits that you need, because it’s too choppy, and you have all sorts of problems,” she said.

Base Operations addresses this problem by taking available data from a range of sources and pulling it together to inform threat profiles. Their technology is all about making sense of the myriad stream of information we encounter daily — taking the wash of news that we sometimes associate with “doom-scrolling” on social media, for instance, and combining it with other sources using machine learning to extrapolate actionable insights.

Those sources of information include “government statistics, social media, local news, data from partnerships, like NGOs and universities,” Siskind said. That data set powers their Micro Intelligence platform, and while the startup’s focus today is on helping enterprises keep people safe, while maintaining their operations, you can easily see how the same information could power everything from planning future geographical expansion, to tailoring product development to address specific markets.

Siskind saw there was a need for this kind of approach to an aspect of business that’s essential, but that has been relatively slow to adopt new technologies. From her vantage point two years ago, however, she couldn’t have anticipated just how urgent the need for better, more scalable enterprise security solutions would arise, and Base Operations now seems perfectly positioned to help with that need.

Dec
14
2020
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5 questions every IT team should to be able to answer

Now more than ever, IT teams play a vital role in keeping their businesses running smoothly and securely. With all of the assets and data that are now broadly distributed, a CEO depends on their IT team to ensure employees remain connected and productive and that sensitive data remains protected.

CEOs often visualize and measure things in terms of dollars and cents, and in the face of continuing uncertainty, IT — along with most other parts of the business — is facing intense scrutiny and tightening of budgets. So, it is more important than ever to be able to demonstrate that they’ve made sound technology investments and have the agility needed to operate successfully in the face of continued uncertainty.

For a CEO to properly understand risk exposure and make the right investments, IT departments have to be able to confidently communicate what types of data are on any given device at any given time.

Here are five questions that IT teams should be ready to answer when their CEO comes calling:

What have we spent our money on?

Or, more specifically, exactly how many assets do we have? And, do we know where they are? While these seem like basic questions, they can be shockingly difficult to answer … much more difficult than people realize. The last several months in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak have been the proof point.

With the mass exodus of machines leaving the building and disconnecting from the corporate network, many IT leaders found themselves guessing just how many devices had been released into the wild and gone home with employees.

One CIO we spoke to estimated they had “somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 devices” that went home with employees, meaning there could have been up to 20,000 that were completely unaccounted for. The complexity was further compounded as old devices were pulled out of desk drawers and storage closets to get something into the hands of employees who were not equipped to work remotely. Companies had endpoints connecting to corporate network and systems that they hadn’t seen for years — meaning they were out-of-date from a security perspective as well.

This level of uncertainty is obviously unsustainable and introduces a tremendous amount of security risk. Every endpoint that goes unaccounted for not only means wasted spend but also increased vulnerability, greater potential for breach or compliance violation, and more. In order to mitigate these risks, there needs to be a permanent connection to every device that can tell you exactly how many assets you have deployed at any given time — whether they are in the building or out in the wild.

Are our devices and data protected?

Device and data security go hand in hand; without the ability to see every device that is deployed across an organization, it becomes next to impossible to know what data is living on those devices. When employees know they are leaving the building and going to be off network, they tend to engage in “data hoarding.”

Nov
12
2020
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Menlo Security announces $100M Series E on $800M valuation

Menlo Security, a malware and phishing prevention startup, announced a $100 million Series E today on an $800 million valuation. The round was led by Vista Equity Partners with help from Neuberger Berman, General Catalyst, JP Morgan and other unnamed existing investors. The company has now raised approximately $250 million.

CEO and co-founder Amir Ben-Efraim says that while the platform has expanded over the years, the company stays mostly focused on web and email as major attack vectors for customers. “We really focused on a better kind of security outcome relative to the major threat factors of web and email. So web and email is really how most of the world or the enterprise world at least does its work, and these channels remain forever vulnerable to the latest attack,” Ben-Efraim explained.

He says that to protect those attack surfaces, the company pioneered a technology called web isolation to disconnect the user from the content and send only safe visuals. “When they click a link or engage with a website, the safe visuals are guaranteed to be malware-free, no matter where you go or you end up,” Ben-Efraim said.

With a valuation of $800 million, he’s proud having built his company from the ground up to this point. He’s not quite ready to discuss an IPO yet, but he expects to take this large influx of cash and continue to grow an independent company with an IPO perhaps three years out.

With an increase in business and the new capital, the company, which has 270 employees of which around 70 came on board this year, hopes to continue to grow at that pace in 2021. He says that as that happens the security startup has been paying close attention to the social justice movements.

“As a management team and for myself as a CEO, it’s an important topic. So we were paying close attention to our own diversification goals. We want Menlo to become a more diversified company,” Ben-Efraim said. He believes the way to get there is to prioritize recruiting channels where they can tap into a wider variety of potential recruits for the company.

While he wouldn’t discuss revenue, he did say in spite of the pandemic, the business is growing rapidly and sales are up 155% in terms of net new sales over last year. “The momentum for that being customers specifically in critical infrastructure, financial services, government and the like are seeing an uptick in attacks associated with COVID, and are looking at security as essential in an area that they need to double down on. So despite the financial difficulties, that’s created a bit of a tailwind for us strangely in 2020, even though the world economy as a whole is clearly being challenged by this epidemic,” he said.

Apr
08
2020
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Box adds automated malware detection to Box Shield security product

With more folks working at home than ever, and many on machines outside the purview of IT and security teams, it’s becoming increasingly imperative to find creative ways to protect them from harm. Today, Box announced it was adding automated malware detection tools to Box Shield, the security product it announced last year.

Aaron Levie, CEO at Box, says that it’s important to find new ways of thinking about security, especially with millions of people suddenly working at home using cloud solutions.

“As people have begun working from home in greater numbers, you’re seeing an increase in malware and phishing attacks. [Bad actors] are starting to spread these security vulnerabilities in a much more aggressive manner, and so we’re launching Box Shield with malware protection built-in with advanced tools and policies around that malware detection,” he said.

The company is taking a three-pronged approach with this solution. For starters, it will let users view a file without actually having to download it first, while indicating if there is a risk associated with it. Next, it will actually prevent users from downloading a file with malware attached. Lastly, it will alert the security team when a file with malware has been uploaded to Box.

The idea is to keep the file from infecting whatever device employees are working on, alerting end users when there is a problem, while letting them see the content of the file gives them all the information they need to know if the file is actually legitimate in the first place.

It’s so much easier right now to be spreading this kind of malicious package with people working from home and sharing files at a far greater rate than ever before. This new feature is designed to give everyone in the loop, from the end user to the IT security team, some confidence that they can know when files are infected or not and keep them from proliferating inside of Box.

Sep
27
2018
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Alphabet’s Chronicle launches an enterprise version of VirusTotal

VirusTotal, the virus and malware scanning service own by Alphabet’s Chronicle, launched an enterprise-grade version of its service today. VirusTotal Enterprise offers significantly faster and more customizable malware search, as well as a new feature called Private Graph, which allows enterprises to create their own private visualizations of their infrastructure and malware that affects their machines.

The Private Graph makes it easier for enterprises to create an inventory of their internal infrastructure and users to help security teams investigate incidents (and where they started). In the process of building this graph, VirtusTotal also looks are commonalities between different nodes to be able to detect changes that could signal potential issues.

The company stresses that these graphs are obviously kept private. That’s worth noting because VirusTotal already offered a similar tool for its premium users — the VirusTotal Graph. All of the information there, however, was public.

As for the faster and more advanced search tools, VirusTotal notes that its service benefits from Alphabet’s massive infrastructure and search expertise. This allows VirusTotal Enterprise to offers a 100x speed increase, as well as better search accuracy. Using the advanced search, the company notes, a security team could now extract the icon from a fake application, for example, and then return all malware samples that share the same file.

VirusTotal says that it plans to “continue to leverage the power of Google infrastructure” and expand this enterprise service over time.

Google acquired VirusTotal back in 2012. For the longest time, the service didn’t see too many changes, but earlier this year, Google’s parent company Alphabet moved VirusTotal under the Chronicle brand and the development pace seems to have picked up since.

Feb
13
2017
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Researchers simulate a ransomware attack on industrial controls

Aerial shot of wastewater treatment facility in Houston, Texas (Photo: Getty Images/Jupiterimages/Photolibrary) Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a form of ransomware that can hit us where it really counts: the water supply. Their program installed itself in a model water plant and allowed the researchers to change chlorine levels, shut down water valves, and send false readings to monitoring systems.
“We are expecting ransomware to go one step farther, beyond the… Read More

Jun
09
2016
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Cylance, fighting malicious hackers with AI, hits $1B valuation after raising $100M

cyber-security-data-sharing “If you can’t beat them, join them” may not sound like the most encouraging pitch for a cybersecurity company, but a startup called Cylance has created an artificial intelligence-powered brain that essentially does just that, and it has taken off — raising $100 million in a Series D round of funding and catapulting itself into the so-called ‘unicorn’ club… Read More

Jan
21
2016
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Security Startup Malwarebytes Raises Another $50M From Fidelity

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 11.36.45 Malwarebytes, a security company that started when its cofounder was still a teenager fixing his parents’ infected computer, has come a long way from its bootstrapped roots. Today the startup’s software is used by millions of consumers and some 70,000 businesses to protect from and clean up computer viruses, worms, trojan horses and more. And now, to grow further, it is… Read More

Jun
26
2015
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Tips for avoiding malware from a lesson learned

Tips for avoiding malware from a lesson learnedIn a recent article on the Percona blog, I recommended readers to a tool called CamStudio for making technical screen recordings. The blog post was very popular and got 300+ Facebook likes in a short time. Providentially though, a reader commented that the installer (as downloaded from the project website) installed “pretty annoying adware on [his] PC.”

As I had been using a slightly dated installer, which did not show this issue, I started looking into the reader’s claims. Besides finding that the reader was correct in his claims about the project website’s installer, I found that even the installer from sourceforge.com (a well known open source download site) had a significant amount of adware in it.

However, the worst had yet to come. Reading through the CamStudio forum on SourceForge, I found out that the CamStudio binaries had apparently been plagued by adware and possibly also viruses and malware. I am however always somewhat suspicious of such reports; consider for example that CamStudio’s competitor TechSmith sells a very similar product (originally based on the same source code I believe) at $299 US per license. Not saying it happened, but one can easily see why competing companies may try to eliminate the open source/free competition.

Still, being cautious, I ran my older original installer (which did not have the adware issues) through virustotal.com, a Google service I learned about during this ‘adventure’. “Guess what” my daughter would say. It had a malware Trojan (Trojan.Siggen6.33552) in it which had only been discovered by a anti-virus software company last April, and only one in 56 virus scanners picked it up according to https://www.virustotal.com! Once the situation was clear, I immediately removed the blog post!

Clearly this was turning out not to be my day. Reading up on this Trojan proved that it was ‘designed for installation of another malware’. Given that Trojan.Siggen6.33552 had only been discovered in April, and given that it may have been installing other malware as per the anti-virus company who discovered it, I quickly decided to reinitialize my Windows PC. Better safe then sorry.

As I mentioned to my colleague David Busby, when you have something happen like this, you become much more security conscious! Thus, I did a review of my network security and was quite amazed at what I found, especially when compared with online security reports.

For example, we have uPnP (universal plug and play) on our routers, Skype automatically installs a (quite wide) hole in the Windows Firewall (seemingly even where it is not necessary), and we allow all 3rd party cookies in all our browsers. One would think this is all fine, but it makes things more easy for attackers!

     Besides virustotal.com, David showed me https://malwr.com – another great resource for analysing potential malwares.

Did you know that with the standard Skype settings, someone can easily work out your IP address? Don’t believe it? If you’re on Windows, go to Skype > Tools > Options > Advanced > Connection and hover your mouse over the blue/white question mark after ‘Allow direct connections to your contacts only’. You’ll see that it says “When you call someone who isn’t a contact, we’ll keep your IP address hidden. This may delay your call setup time.“ And apparently on Linux this option is not even directly available (more info here).

So, for example, to make Skype more secure I did 1) untick ‘use port 80 and 443 for additional incoming connections’, 2) setup a fixed port and punched a hole in the Windows firewall just for that port, for a specific program, a specific user, and for a specific IP range (much more restricted than the wide hole that was already there), 3) Removed the “Skype rule” which seemingly was placed there by the Skype installer, 4) Disabled uPnP on my router, 5) Disabled Skype from using uPnP, 6) Ticked ‘Allow direct connections to your contacts only’. Phewy. (Note that disabling uPnP (being a convenience protocol) can lead to some issues with smartTV’s / consoles / mobile phone apps if disabled.)

     All our networking & software setup these days is mostly about convenience.

Further reviewing the Windows firewall rules, I saw many rules that could be either removed or tied down significantly. It was like doing QA on my own network (phun intended :). The same with the router settings. Also did a router firmware upgrade, and installed the latest Windows security patches. All of the sudden that previously-annoying ‘we’ll just shut down your pc to install updates, even if you had work open’ feature in Windows seemed a lot more acceptable :) (I now have a one-week timeout for automatic restarts).

For the future ahead, when I download third party utilities (open source or not), I will almost surely run them through virustotal.com – a fantastic service by Google. It’s quite quick and easy to do; download, upload, check. I also plan to once in a while review Windows firewall rules, program security settings (especially for browsers and tools like Skype etc.), and see if there are Windows updates etc.

The most surprising thing of all? Having made all these security restrictions has given me 0% less functionality thus far.

Maybe it is indeed time we wake up about security.

The post Tips for avoiding malware from a lesson learned appeared first on MySQL Performance Blog.

Jun
08
2015
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Menlo Security Emerges From Stealth With $25M And Plan To Defeat Malware

Hacker trying to steal passwords. Menlo Security, a company with a unique plan to battle malware, emerged from stealth today and also announced $25M in Series B funding. The idea is an intriguing one. Many security problems emanate from malware, which can give hackers a path into a system where they can find their way deeper in and eventually compromise the entire network. But what if you could prevent the malware from… Read More

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