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6 security companies to watch

Tim Greene | Jan. 27, 2012
This group of security companies includes several that want to capitalize on technology ideas that were originally devised to serve communities of special interest but could now take on a wider cybersecurity role.

The service can block emails being spoofed under the domain names of legitimate businesses, but also notifies businesses when their domain names are being hijacked to send phishing messages and emails with malicious attachments.

It's worthy of note because it plans to develop support for enterprise-grade email platforms such as Microsoft Exchange. And the company is working to expand support for its filtering to ISPs and telecom carriers in Europe to block the source of more malicious emails.

Success relies on cooperation of major service providers, and Agari has secured that broadly in the U.S. and is seeking it out in other regions. It is also being offered to the financial services industry via the financial services information sharing and analysis center (FS-ISAC), and the Financial Services Roundtable. Information about URLs that are sending illegitimate emails can be sent to takedown services, making a contribution to cleaning up the Internet in general.

Given its leadership, current industry support, road map and financial backing, Agari can be looked to as a means to help better control email-borne threats.


Headquarters: San Francisco Founded: 2010 Funding: $22.1 million from New Enterprise Associates, Pelion Venture Partners and Venrock Leaders: Its three founders are CEO Matthew Prince and Lead Engineer Lee Holloway (both veterans of Project Honeypot), and Customer Experience executive Michelle Zatlyn. Fun fact: The company started as a Harvard Business School project, and when its founders graduated they moved via U-Haul cross-country to San Francisco.

Why we're following it: There are lots of content-delivery networks, but this one offers a significant number of services free, weeding out bad traffic to websites, mitigating DDoS attacks and in the process cutting load times, on average, in half.

Preparation to use the service requires a simple change to customers' DNS settings to direct traffic through CloudFlare's network. No hardware, no software.

The company stores customers' static Web page content in its 13 nodes worldwide so it's closer to requesters and lowers latency. The service can store a limited version of Web pages that it can continue to serve from CloudFlare nodes should a customer's Web servers fail.

The company claims its filtering of bad requests can reduce the amount of traffic Web servers handle by 65%, making better use of Internet bandwidth.

Part of what's attractive about CloudFlare is that the founders come at CDN after it has already been well defined as a service network category, but they have the luxury of starting fresh with hardware and custom software that optimizes what they want to do.

Toss in that the founders have a demonstrated passion for eliminating spam and improving Web performance as shown by their participation in Project Honeypot, which tracks the IP addresses used to harvest email addresses that are then spammed. And they've managed to attract the attention of respected venture firms who have contributed more than $20 million.


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