On a recent trip to Israel’s Cyber Week, Timothy P. Murphy explained how security startups can get noticed and what is lacking in the industry
After 23 years of service in the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and another six in private business, to say that Thomson Reuters Special Services President Timothy Murphy has a few thoughts on cyber security is an understatement to say the least.
On his most recent trip to Israel, Murphy attended Israel’s annual Cyber Week, meeting companies and learning about the new developments in the industry coming out of the cyber hub of Tel Aviv. He also gave us his own two cents about what he thinks are the big trends cyber firms should focus on.
During his time at the Bureau and afterward, Murphy has witnessed the rise of digital threats and the response from both the government and private sectors. His work in the field of cyber has brought him to Israel on numerous occasions, giving him a long term perspective on the growth of the Israeli security scene. Murphy is also a board member at Glilot Capital Partners, an Israeli VC with security startups like LightCyber and CyberX in their portfolio. Glilot hosted the “fireside” chat with Murphy on a rooftop in the center of Tel Aviv, next to the iconic Rabin Square, bringing together many of the big names in cyber security.
Speaking about the conference, Murphy told Geektime that, “I think it’s an exciting conference, one that’s grown over the years,” attracting big names in the industry. “What I’m here for is to see the next generation of innovation in the cyber security market,” he says, explaining his interest in the innovation going on here.
While there has been an explosion of companies working in the cyber security space over the past couple of years, each dreaming of becoming the next Check Point, it has become harder to stand out from the crowd.
Murphy understands the challenge, recognizing that there are a lot of what he calls “me too” companies and that for a CISO (chief information security officer), choosing the right product to meet their needs can be difficult.
“It’s not always the first to market that’s going to win, what’s going to differentiate you. But frequently CISOs are asking everybody when they come in, ‘What do you do, how do you do it, and what do you replace?’, ‘What’s my return on investment?’ and, ‘Is it really going to help me.’ I think those are the CISOs’ first questions.”
Murphy believes cyber firms should address this one big issue
One of the biggest areas that Murphy believes is being underserved is in monitoring networks for anomalous behavior. “In the States, I don’t think that every day they are active on the network, hunting for anomalous behavior,” he explains. “What you see is a lot of firewalls, IDS and IPS, but no one actively looking not only for signature based but also anomalous activity, asking ‘what’s odd’ that’s happening on the network.”
In tackling this Herculean challenge of monitoring networks, he tells Geektime that he is looking to machines for solutions. “Instead of manually looking at logs which people are still doing, can’t we have machines that are able to parse through that, get rid of all the things that you don’t need to so that you can focus on things you do.”
Murphy’s vision for the next step of innovation is technology that can monitor an entire network in real time with machines.
“What I’m looking for is about what can we get machines to do more of? In the U.S., and I’m sure that here is the same thing, we don’t have enough talent to fight these cyber threats. We need computers and technology to do it. So whoever is coming up with the next generation technology that limits the footprint of the humans, watching this is going to make it fun.”
However he says that he and others at the top levels of companies that are buying the solutions are not satisfied with the solutions that are currently on the market.
“The proof in the pudding is when you put them in place, are they really working?” he says of vendors in this field. “That’s what they have to prove out with their POC or something else. I’ve been approached by a lot of vendors who will come in and say that they do a lot of different things, but at the end of the day, they really have to prove themselves.”
He is even more skeptical of companies that claim that they are an “all-in-one” kind of package.
“Nobody can do the whole thing,” he says, expressing his frustration that nobody out there is offering a fully comprehensive solution. “I’ve argued over the past four or five years that it’d be great if someone would come up with the ecosystem for cyber security, that end-to-end protection. The truth of the matter is that nobody has, even if they say they do.”
The importance of networking for accessing the growing market
A key point that Murphy drives home is the fact that the market is looking for solutions. He says that like in the government, CEOs and their boards understand the threat cyber attackers pose to their businesses.
This recognition from the business level has opened up budgets for security, and opportunities for startups with solid solutions.
But getting deals signed is still a challenge, especially with the overload of proposals facing the CISOs at the enterprise level.
“My friends at some of the big internationals will get ten calls a day and turn them down,” says Murphy, describing the challenge of actually getting face time with the CISOs.
All is not lost though, pointing to the power of networking. “The people that get in have networked in and have some type of relationship with them,” he explains. “Networking is probably one of the most important things in any business, cyber or otherwise. If you’re not networking, then there’s no way that you’ll ever get through that door.”