Israeli cybersecurity pioneer aims to disrupt Hong Kong market with cloud-based services

Cato Networks CEO Shlomo Kramer says firms must adapt quickly to prevent cyber thieves exploiting ‘fluidity’ of modern working environment

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 March, 2016, 3:06pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 March, 2016, 3:12pm

Cybersecurity start-up Cato Networks, an Israeli firm now targeting Hong Kong, aims to disrupt the enterprise cybersecurity market by offering network security services via the cloud, the company said this week.

Such a move could make physical security devices like firewalls, which filter out unwanted traffic, redundant and better protect companies against external threats like ransomware, chief executive Shlomo Kramer told the South China Morning Post.

The kind of devices that enterprises use can no longer protect them from security threats, especially at a time when business is conducted so “fluidly” from various locations rather than being restricted to an office environment, he said.

“There’s no office anymore, no fixed location. But organisations are still trying to protect this fluid business with physical appliances. It’s like trying to plug different holes in a huge [canvas]. There is a mismatch here,” said the man considered one of the pioneers of Israeli cybersecurity.

Kramer invented one of the world’s first commercially available pieces of firewall software at his previous company, Check Point Software Technologies.

His current start-up offers enterprises a novel solution: a company’s remote devices, cloud applications or data centres can be connected to Cato’s cloud network, allowing cybersecurity personnel to manage all of its network security and traffic through Cato’s platform.

Staff no longer need to work with separate security appliances and individual programmes to enforce policies such as URL filtering or application control across the organisation, according to Cato.

Cloud-based network security services would be particularly useful to medium-sized companies in Hong Kong, Kramer said.

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These often bear the brunt of cybersecurity threats because many enterprise security solutions are beyond their budget, he said.

While declining to reveal Cato’s prices, he said companies will enjoy “significant cost savings”. He listed the relative simplicity of managing cybersecurity through Cato’s cloud network as another advantage.

“One of the biggest [internal] vulnerabilities today to enterprises is complexity, and the lack of expertise to manage [such systems],” he said.

“When you have a complex security system, you could misconfigure it, or be unable to detect an attack because the alerts are simply too complex or evolved. Complexity does not allow us to have good control of what’s going on.”

A cloud network may afford enterprises better protection against threats like ransomware, which encrypts files on a network before the authors demand money, often in Bitcoin, to release them.

“Cato is cloud-based, and we can see all the traffic of our customers. The moment someone is faced with a ransomware attack, Cato is able to configure and update the system for everyone else to protect against similar threats,” said Kramer.

“It’s like a community of people helping [each other].”