Vulnerabilities / Threats
1/22/2014
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Security Startups Take Shape Out Of Stealth

Former Google, Barracuda Networks executives behind new security companies launched yesterday

The new year already is bringing a string of startups to the security scene backed by executives from high-profile companies: Shape Security yesterday emerged with its new website security technology, while video security firm EagleEye launched its cloud-based security service for video and security camera surveillance.

Shape Security, which has been in stealth mode for two years and is led by former management from Google, Cisco, Mozilla, and VMware, pulled back the covers on its approach to defeating website attacks by botnets and malware. Shuman Ghosemajumder, Shape's vice president of product and former Google click fraud czar, says the startup is giving attackers a taste of their own medicine and using real-time polymorphism at the Web user interface to thwart botnets and malware so they can't take advantage of the Web source code interface anymore.

"Rather than trying to detect all these attacks and catalog the ways attacks have operated in the past -- bad IPs, strange behaviors -- we wanted to do something fundamentally to the application" to deter attackers, Ghosemajumder says. Shape's technology mixes up the static appearance of HTML scripts at the interface so attackers can't use them for credential-stuffing, application-layer DDoS, and man-in-the-browser attacks, he says.

"The website never looks the same way twice" to the attacker, so he can't create scripts to abuse it, he says. "By renaming the HTML scripts ... to something else ... and constantly changing on every single page load."

Ghosemajumder says the concept is a new security layer for websites that doesn't change Web functionality. "It's not about changing programming behavior. It's not a vulnerability in an app that you can change by coding: It's about solving an inherent vulnerability in the Web," he says.

Shape's new ShapeShifter appliance sits in front of the Web server and continuously changes up the attack surface of a website. "We are focused on stopping automated attacks [against a website user interface] ... even SQL injection," he says. "What we are aiming to do is make it so expensive for attackers to attack a website that's protected by ShapeShifter that they will do the rational thing and not invest in a new process -- [they will] take their scripts and go after softer targets."

Robert Lentz, former chief information security officer at the Department of Defense and member of the board of directors of FireEye, says Shape's technology addresses a security problem that has been tough to hack. "Shape is operating on a previously inaccessible layer of the security problem: the fact that everyone has a user interface, but user interfaces are inherently vulnerable to attacks from malware, bots, and scripts."

Shape's beta customers are in the financial, commerce, and health-care industries. "Our initial customers asked for a box to plug in," Ghosemajumder says. The company also plans to offer a cloud-based version with a virtual image, he says.

Shape also has backing from Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt's TomorrowVentures and former Symantec CEO Enrique Salem.

Dean Drako, founder and former CEO of Barracuda Networks, yesterday announced his new startup, Eagle Eye Security, which also has been operating in stealth for two years. Eagle Eye also rolled out its cloud-based security camera video management system, which encrypts video and event data. "Cameras are moving into the IP realm, and IT guys are taking them over [gradually]," Drako says. "We have a highly encrypted connection to our cloud servers, where the box phones home. No ports are broken, and no public IP addresses are on our box."

Eagle Eye also encrypts the video to prevent tampering and unauthorized access, he says.

According to a survey the startup conducted, some 49 percent of IT professionals handle their organizations' video security system, and half say it's likely they will go to the cloud for some video storage within two years.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Senior Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise Magazine, ... View Full Bio

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