In regards to all of the recent security breaches and with all the ways hackers can obtain your information, it can be kind of scary browsing the Internet nowadays. If you’re working at an enterprise company, it’s even more of a risk because you can potentially expose the organization.
Randori is a cybersecurity startup with a focus on attacking and defending. The company recently exited stealth mode and received its seed round of funding via Accomplice, .406 Ventures, and Legion Capital.
The company’s team is a collection of experienced folks who know how cybersecurity attackers will act when they target enterprise companies. Their platform gives its users an edge by giving them a chance to see where a potential attack can occur in an infrastructure.
We spoke with the founding team of Brian Hazzard (CEO) and David “Moose” Wolpoff (CTO) about their backgrounds and how it led them to start their own company. Along with going into detail how their technology works, the two founders also shared how they are setting their company apart from other companies in a relatively crowded and constantly evolving tech sector.
Colin Barry [CB]: Everyone on the team has had some level of experience working in cybersecurity. Tell me a little bit how each of you got your start in that sector of Boston tech?
Brian Hazzard [BH]: I grew up in Boston, so this has always been my home. I’ve been in security for 20+ years and was employee number 10 at Carbon Black. Throughout 13 years, I helped the company grow to over one thousand employees and thousands of customers across the globe. During my time there, I held executive positions as VP of Product, VP of Marketing, and VP of Business Development.
Daivd "Moose" Wolpoff [DW]: I’m an electrical engineer by schooling, but kind of backed my way into hacking and security. At Kyrus Technologies, I was a paid-to-play hacker. I led their Red team services and was able to hack into every company that hired us to show and prove to them exactly how a bad guy would do it. That’s my role at Randori as well - I’m here to take my experience and expertise and apply that so we can provide every organization an attacker’s perspective.
CB: Now moving onto Randori. What are the origins behind Randori and how did the company come together?
BH: We founded the company in February 2018 to help organizations understand where and how an attacker can uniquely strike an organization right now.
Organizations make HUGE investments in security, but throwing more money at the same problems won’t fix anything until we change our approach. Every company could get better security with less money and less effort. They need to spend and work smarter. The investments you make need to be informed by the unique view attackers have of your organization and how they can come after your organization.
Moose and I happened to work together on a few projects, and I knew he was among the best hackers out there that were working for the good guys. He had the same vision for the security market that I did.
DW: Brian and I have worked closely together in the past - and we have a very similar philosophical view of the security market...that it sucks. In all the years that companies paid me to hack in, it hasn't gotten much harder. We see the same problems over and over; the same failures in processes and understanding; the same inability to embracing fundamentals.
We both firmly believe that the security industry is broken, but it can be fixed. It’s not about just finding something new to solve a specific problem or vulnerability. That’s a defender’s mindset - and attackers and defenders think much differently. That’s our ultimate goal - change the way people think about security. Take an attacker’s mindset and start there.
Brian is the expert at building product and bringing it to market. I’m the guy that’s going to break into your organization and tell you how I did it. What we’re building is already out there. It’s in the hands of criminals. It’s in the hands of foreign governments. We’re turning this on its head and giving an attack platform to the defender. We’re arming the slow bison to fight back against the wolf.
CB: I was browsing the website, and I see a lot of information about “attacking and defending”...it looks like Randori is working on both fronts. How does the Randori platform work and how is it accomplishing its mission regarding attacking and defending?
BH: Randori works by emulating the way hackers think and act. With only an email, we can go from knowing nothing about you to identifying your attack surface and showing you exactly where an attacker is most likely to strike.
DW: Under the hood, it’s just determined automation - combining my team’s expertise with the scale and speed of the cloud. The system works by following lots of different breadcrumbs to figure out what makes up an organization’s infrastructure. From there, we use data science and machine learning to prioritize what we find based on how exciting it would be to an attacker. Shortly after, we’ll be letting our clients authorize instant attacks based on the things we find to understand the unique impact that could result if an asset was attacked.
CB: What sets the Randori platform apart from other cybersecurity platforms?
DW: Providing an authentic experience is central to everything we do and core to what sets us apart. Using a black-box approach allows us to limit ourselves to only the information an outside attacker would have when launching a new attack. Using this approach, we can find unknown systems, blind spots, and gaps in the process that legacy penetration (pen) tests would miss.
With three out of every four breaches caused by an outside attacker - we feel having this perspective is critically important. Previously, this was a perspective only the most secure organizations and richest companies could afford. But by automating the process, we can do this in low friction, cost-effective way that a traditional services driven organization can match.
BH: Unlike pen testing and simulated attacks which are limited and reflect a specific point-in-time, the Randori platform works continuously to provide real-time insights into how attackers view customers’ environments. This is a huge differentiator compared to service driven assessments currently on the market.
CB: How long did it take to develop the platform? What is the tech stack like for the platform?
DW: Randori combines continuous reconnaissance with the execution of real attacks, providing visibility into where threat actors of all skill levels will likely strike next. The SaaS-based platform activates in seconds - no set-up or deployment required - and is designed to scale.
CB: Who are the ideal clients of Randori?
BH: Today, we are working with more than 20 customers and design partners, including some of the world’s largest organizations. Looking ahead, the organizations best positioned to take advantage of the Randori platform are mid-to-large size enterprises. But the reality is that almost every business is a target for cyber attackers, and we believe that every CISO would benefit from an having an attacker’s perspective.
CB: You’ve recently raised funding from Accomplice, .406 Ventures, and Legion Capital. Congratulations! Would you be able to share some details on what the plans are for those funds going forward?
BH: The funding will be used to scale the development of our attack platform and further build out our engineering teams in Boston and Denver. Right now, we’re in Alpha and expect to have customers on a beta version of the platform by the end of 2018 - this funding will help accelerate these efforts.
CB: What is some advice you can give to entrepreneurs getting involved in cybersecurity? What about raising funds as a cybersecurity startup?
BH: Cybersecurity is a crowded and bloated market - anyone looking to break into this space needs to be thinking big. You need to not only be better, but you need to be 10 times better. While there is a lot of money being invested in the space, I can’t stress enough the importance of selecting investors you trust and whose vision aligns with yours. At Randori, we are lucky to have found those in Accomplice and .406.
DW: Think about how to add real value.
CB: Randori is a pretty cool name. How did the team come up with the name for the company?
BH: Randori is a martial arts term meaning to practice the way you fight. That’s what we’re aiming to provide our customers at Randori. Unlike pen testing and simulated attacks which replay historical and known attacks or are limited in scope, Randori provides a real-time attacker’s view of their environment, what assets attackers are most likely to go after and how they will attack.
DW: By giving organizations the opportunity to scrimmage in an authentic attack scenario, they’ll be better prepared to face and defend against the freestyle techniques of a real adversary.
CB: Any other additional comments you’d like to make?
DW: I hope we can play a part in unsticking the security space. It’s severely broken right now. If we can help companies spend smarter on security and better assess the risks they face by providing a hacker’s perspective, then we’ll consider that a real win for us and the industry.