In our interconnected and device-laden world, cybersecurity has become a hot topic, especially after recent data breaches at the Sony and Target corporations. According to a study sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, cybercrime cost the average American firm $15 million in 2014, a 19 percent jump from the year prior. Average per company losses could top $40 million by 2020 if current growth rates continue. In addition to economically-motivated cyber-crime, there’s increasing concern that a cyber terror attack on critical national infrastructure – such as nuclear power plants and transport networks – could be imminent.
Taken together, the need for companies, government agencies, and even households to adopt robust cyber-security strategies has become more pressing. Part of that need is being met at the corner of Kansas and 17th streets, home to a major player in the cyber-security game: OPSWAT – Omni-Platform Security with Access Technologies – a software company that helps secure and manage information technology infrastructure. The 13 year old, 60-employee firm moved their main offices to Potrero Hill in 2013.
OPSWAT has three main products – OESIS, Metascan and Gears – which it licenses to a diverse user base, including Cisco, F5, Dell, Juniper, financial institutions, health- care providers and nuclear facilities.
The team is led by founder and chief executive officer Benny Czarny, an Israeli-born computer programmer who came to the United States in 2000. The concept of security is deeply imbedded in every Israeli citizen from birth, which has helped turn the country into a world leader in the cyber-security industry. “Creating a great security system has always been a passion of mine because it’s a tough problem,” Czarny said. “Cyber-security, or any form of security for that matter, is always a tradeoff. The more you invest is not necessarily the more you get in security. The challenge I see is how to first be very transparent about this trade-off and how to create a small one through prioritization.” In 2004, OPSWAT launched OESIS, which provides organizations with tools to determine if a device is secure enough to access their network. When someone tries to log onto a network OESIS powers a series of checks and fixes, allowing them to log on successfully if they pass the screens.
Two years later the company released Metascan, which is used to analyze incoming data uploads from email servers, web proxies and other sources to prevent any unknown threats from coming onto networks. With Metascan, OPSWAT combined 40 different antivirus engines with its own proprietary technology, creating the mother of all antivirus engines. “What you get is the most robust data security solution that you can find out there.” Czarny said. “Put yourself in the seat of an IT manager tasked with selecting the technology to power their data security. With Metascan they don’t need to choose; it combines all of them into a single engine and provides multiple opinions.”
OPSWAT offers a free version of Metascan online; if you receive a suspicious file and are unsure if it should be opened upload it on Metascan online to have it analyzed for threats.
In 2014 the company issued Gears, a cloud-based platform that offers more security features than OESIS, delivering an even greater level of threat detection. The software also keeps tabs on the security status of all devices that’ve already been granted access to a network. Like Metascan, a free version is available online; it can be used by a household to monitor their devices – personal computers, phones, and tablets – for security issues.
The utility is pretty straightforward: set up an account, install a lite client on each device, and begin scanning your system. The tool will assess how well you’re doing in areas like firewall, hard disk encryption, antivirus and more, and will provide an overall security score out of 100. If it’s less than 100 in any category Gears will display a breakdown on why, and provide instructions on what to do about it. Gears online version can manage up to 25 devices for free, giving a family or small business visibility to the health status of all of their devices through a web portal.
Czarny encourages Hill businesses and residents to try the free versions of Gears and Metascan and provide their feedback, which would arm him with additional case studies to prevent future cyber-threats.