Cylance,a cyber security company founded by former Global McAfee CTO Stuart McClure, has raised $15 million in a round led by Khosla Ventures and Fairhaven Capital.
Cylance uses data to help keep core systems healthy. In particular its focus is on critical infrastructure and the types of threats President Barack Obama mentioned in his State of the Union address last night when he announced he had signed an executive order to protect the nation’s infrastructure from the escalating danger of cyber attacks, urging the U.S. Congress to pass a Cyber Security bill. McClure, in an interview yesterday, said Obama recognizes that the physical and cyber worlds are coming together. Power grids, utilities, they all are vulnerable to attack. The problem: nobody is fixing it.
McClure said the answer to our troubles is something we have known we could do since the late 1990s. Organizations need to treat its systems like a healthy person treats their body. For instance, getting a flu shot is not the answer to keep from getting sick. Most people who don’t get the flu take care of themselves. They have a good diet, exercise and get enough sleep.
Systems need similar treatment except their nutrients are in the form of data algorithms. Taking preventative measures makes the difference between falling victim to attack and withstanding the virus by showing strength in the core of an organization’s system defenses.
Data represents the nutrients that our systems need to stay healthy. Data, when applied to algorithms, acts as a way for an organization to keep its defenses strong.
Cylance is using data in not such a different way than Google uses it to develop self-driving cars. Data is at the core of Google’s capability, connecting disparate data points to form patterns that can be used for a car to drive itself down the road. For Cylance, it means using data to form patterns to understand the preventative measures required to keep a water utility safe from attack.
The threat to our infrastructure is not just limited to electrical grids or other high profile infrastructure. Cylance will focus quite a bit on embedded systems, the technologies used in all kinds of medical equipment. These embedded technologies, be they in printers or defibrillators, will increasingly be the subject of attack. And data is the best safeguard.
The biggest problem Cylance will face is not the attackers — it’s the security industry resistant to change and a public apathetic about the risks we face from attacks that could shut off our water or plunge entire regions into darkness. Without those forces engaged, Cylance will only be able to solve a small part of a problem that grows ever wider in scope.