Imagine a company that installs an appliance to monitor your network for malicious activity, then broadcasts that security data to a cloud service and has experts watching and responding to any real threats.
That’s what Traversal Networks, a member of the Summer Y Combinator 2015 class, is trying to do. In fact, the company was making its pitch at YC Demo Day shortly after I spoke to co-founder Ryan MacArthur yesterday.
MacArthur has a strong background in cybersecurity including stints as an engineer at Symantec and work as a researcher and consultant. He says all of this knowledge helped him understand the needs of the security market.
What he saw, particularly at the mid-market level with firms between 100 and 1000 employees, were companies doing a poor job on security because they simply couldn’t afford to hire experts or who were investing in expensive solutions with no clear idea what to do with the information these systems were feeding them.
It’s all well and good to get an alert that your network has been breached, it’s another matter to understand how to handle that. And even security information sharing services couldn’t really help in this regard.
“It’s really hard to see if this traffic is malicious or Chrome is updating itself. It has a similar look,” MacArthur explained as an example of the complexity companies face trying to understand this kind of information.
That’s where Traversal Networks comes in. It will act as your security department, sifting through the information that gets fed from the security appliance. When it finds an issue, the analyst contacts the customer to discuss the correct course of action to take.
“The technology we built helps people to tap into our technology and have it monitored by our experts,” he said.
The beauty of collecting data from multiple companies (eventually) is that analysts will know about issues across the network from all of the customers, and be able to share threat information within the tool itself. This will make every customer safer by implementing the ‘safety of the herd’ idea in a new way via shared data.
MacArthur claims that the way they have set up the system will allow one analyst to monitor 100 customers in a day and that should limit the amount of personnel they have to hire to keep track of client data as they grow the business.
The company just recently launched and it has a handful or early customers, one of which is ready to go into pilot. The founders are talking to investors now, and although MacArthur couldn’t say much about it, he hinted they could have more to share in the not-to-distant future.
As for the YC experience, he couldn’t say enough about how helpful it was in providing the initial cash and access to world-class experts who could help them refine and build their idea. While Traversal was one of the few enterprise companies in the class, he said they still got lots of help.
“They have a bunch of amazing mentors who are experts at enterprise. While [most of] the companies in our batch are not going to talk about enterprise sales and products, the greater network has great experience at this,” he said.
As for the future, MacArthur says he has a network of former colleagues he hopes to tap as soon as the company begins to expand. Within the next 12-18 months he aims to have a minimum of 150 customers on the network and have added anti-virus protection to his product family.
It’s an ambitious goal, but he thinks the market need warrants it.