Reimagining cybersecurity through a culture of innovation

By Archis Gore

The notion of “marginal gains” has become a popular mantra for many business leaders. The idea is that making small 1% improvements in a host of areas can add up to a big cumulative result. But sometimes, small incremental gains are just not good enough.

Henry Ford provides a case in point. He famously said: “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’.” However, breeding faster horses wasn’t the answer. At some stage, it would become impossible to go any quicker. Ford recognized it was time to shake things up – to take a new approach. The invention of the motor car was a paradigm shift in the world of transportation and factory-scale production made it affordable.

Cybersecurity is in a similar situation.

You only have to read Polyverse’s weekly breach report to know that cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and aggressive every day. Confidential records exposed by data breaches nearly tripled in 2019, when compared with the year before. That trend is set to continue in 2020, especially with so many of us working remotely due to the current coronavirus pandemic.

We simply can’t keep up with this onslaught by making small marginal improvements or by relying on the same old traditional cybersecurity defenses we’ve been using up to now. As an example, the most popular antivirus tools typically only block about 40% of attacks. Einstein is often quoted as saying: “insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.” In this context, if we only do what we’ve always done to protect ourselves, then we are playing right into the hands of the hackers.

It’s time for a radical rethink

I agree with Henry Ford: it’s time for some innovation. We need a new game-changing approach to shake things up. We’re looking for a paradigm shift to flip the effort/reward ratio back in our favor, making it exponentially harder for the bad guys to attack us.

That’s what we’re striving for here at Polyverse. It’s central to our company’s culture and ethos. We were formed in 2015 and have a clear vision and goal. We want a world free from the cybersecurity attacks that impact businesses, ruin lives and endanger the planet. In short, our aim is to solve cybersecurity problems once and for all.

That might seem like a bold objective. But as the saying goes: “Go big or go home!” We believe it’s possible and we’re working hard to make it a reality.

The focus on cybersecurity innovation begins with our leadership team. Collectively, we have decades of experience gained from keeping the world’s largest and most successful online and cloud businesses up, running, secure and protected. Here’s a taster of our in-depth skillsets:

Alex Gounares is Polyverse’s founder and CEO. He was the technology advisor to Bill Gates, before becoming vice president for corporate strategy and then Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Online Services and later at CTO at AOL. You can listen to Alex talking about Polyverse’s vision here.

Chris Hanaoka is our Head of Engineering. His experience includes being GM for the Azure cloud infrastructure at Microsoft and VP for Reliability Engineering at Yahoo!  With both of these roles, the buck stopped with Chris if the farm got hacked.

Archis Gore (that’s me). My experience includes being answerable for the availability and operations of the Amazon retail search infrastructure. I was ultimately responsible for security against cyber-attacks and mitigating any other downtime issues, especially during crucial Black Friday events. I’m proud to say that less than 3 seconds of downtime was ever experienced on my watch.

As you can imagine, the very best safeguards are needed to ensure infrastructures and services at this scale don’t get hacked. But as I pointed out earlier, traditional approaches can only take you so far.

We formed Polyverse to explore new ways to change the cybersecurity battlefield dynamics. To get that done, we’ve built a team of really smart people, including some of the most distinguished engineers in the industry. People like Mark Zbikowski, with 25 years’ experience in systems architecture, kernel, and file system design at Microsoft. He was the guy who designed the MS-DOS executable file format back in the day. Or Chris Fraser, who literally wrote the book on compilers and is a recognized authority on the topic. He was also one of the earliest contributors to the preferred compiler for Linux. Both Mark and Chris are acknowledged geniuses in their fields.

To augment this depth of knowledge and experience, we’re building out a team that can think outside the box. We foster an entrepreneurial and innovative character within the company. People join us because they value working within an inspirational team, but where they are also given the freedom, tools, and ownership to solve problems.

Polyverse is the kind of organization that is agile enough to turn on a dime. Hence, we have a deliberate policy of seeking out diversity. We want people who can see problems and challenges from different perspectives. Everyone is encouraged to challenge the status quo; to come up with new and better ways to get things done.

Innovative outcomes

How has this methodology worked out in practice? Well, according to the popular adage, “the results speak for themselves.”

Polyverse’s approach to cybersecurity is radically different. Up till now, cybersecurity measures have been reactive. They attempt to block attacks or respond to them after they’ve occurred. But what if you were immune to the attack in the first place? How can that be done?

Fundamentally, hackers need to understand the code if they are going to exploit bugs and vulnerabilities. However, what if you make every computer, webserver programming language and web application unique? Then the hackers would be oblivious to the code or how it’s being used. That would make your entire system impervious to any attack aimed at a standard software build.

That’s the premise of Polyverse’s ground-breaking portfolio of products. It shifts the balance of power away from hackers and back in your favor.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Polymorphing for Linux hardens your choice of Linux. It does this by running the source code through an advanced polymorphic compiler to scramble the binary code, creating a unique version of the operating system. This makes it bulletproof and immune to all zero-day memory attacks, or any code-injection, overflow and memory corruption exploit. Better still, by recompiling every day, even specifically crafted and targeted attacks are thwarted.
  • Polyscripting works on a similar premise. It eliminates code-injection attacks aimed at web servers or the applications running on them. This is achieved by scrambling the source code of a programming language’s interpreter. It creates a unique version of the programming language, interpreter and the web-applications that run on it. This approach immediately stamps out the top security risks to web-based applications.

If these cybersecurity solutions sound appealing, why not talk to Polyverse to arrange a free trial or demo.

Alternatively, if the prospect of joining a truly inspiring, progressive and innovative team appeals to you, check out the current Polyverse career vacancies.

Interested in learning more?

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