Security experts launch new cyber company

Edgewise Networks to provide network security ‘where firewalls fail,’ company says
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

BURLINGTON, Mass.—Edgewise Networks, a new start-up company backed by $7 million in initial capital, announced its official launch today. The company’s founders, CEO Peter Smith, a cybersecurity entrepreneur, and CTO Harry Sverdlove, former CTO of Carbon Black (formerly Bit9), are looking to provide a fresh take on network security, one that transcends the limitations of available address-centric controls.

“People have adopted firewalls but they are not living up to the promise of stopping the progression of attacks in their environment,” Smith told Security Systems News. “The firewall can’t see beyond the communication it is filtering; it can’t see the actual software communicating or the user controlling that software or the host that the software is running on.”

Smith pointed out that most cyber attackers know how to trick a firewall into making it so that it carries their traffic, which is called policy piggybacking.

“The firewalls are missing all of this rich information that really drives home what is the intent of this communication—the identity of the application user and host—that is all hidden behind the address, and that is exactly what Edgewise does,” he explained. “All we look at and all we care about is: what is the software communicating, who is the user controlling it and on what host is it running. And this is all with the goal of protecting applications in the cloud and in the data centers by ensuring only trustworthy software communicates over an approved network path.”

Edgewise Networks’ Trusted Application Networking approach is based on the zero-trust networking model.

“What this all boils down to is a simple statement: Stop trusting network addresses,” he said. “We look beyond the actual addresses to what is controlling them, and that is exactly what our concept, called Trusted Application Networking, is all about. We assert the identity of the application communication on both sides of the connection as well as the users controlling the application and the hosts on which they are running.”

Smith explained that Edgewise secures critical business applications running in the cloud and data center by eliminating 98 percent of network attack surface and protecting the rest.

“The benefits of this approach includes the elimination of all unnecessary attack surface, so we eliminate 98 percent of the attack surface that literally is unnecessary, as they are exposed pathways of attack that are not needed by the application to perform its business function,” he explained. “The remaining 2 percent we protect by ensuring that it is only trusted software communicating. We do this validation on both sides of the connection before the communication is started, which is not the case with a firewall, which allows the connection to start before validating the sender of that communication. And that is often too late.”

Another important aspect of this approach is policy compression, as Edgewise uses machine learning to model application communication patterns and generate optimal protection policies for the business, according to Smith. In contrast, to address-centric micro-segmentation, the Edgewise policy engine generates the smallest policy set to provide the broadest protection, he noted. “Tens of thousands of policies now compress to a recommended handful to reduce complexity without compromising security.”

Edgewise also measures the visible network attack surface, quantifies risk exposure, and recommends policies to maximize protection. “Each policy is modeled to show risk reduction, enabling organizations to prioritize where protection is needed,” Smith noted.

In addition to investment from top New England venture capital firms .406 Ventures, Accomplice, and Pillar, Edgewise Networks is backed by some of the most successful cybersecurity CEOs in the industry, including Patrick Morley, CEO of Carbon Black; Omar Hussain, former CEO of Imprivata; Brian Ahern, CEO of Threat Stack; and Bob Brennan, CEO of Veracode.

“The near term goals are to launch a product in early Q4, and to bring on the remaining beta participants, rounding out the group of beta participants across a variety of verticals and industries,” Smith said.