AI cybersecurity startup Elisity raises $7.5 million to protect networks from attack with AI


Cybersecurity startup Elisity today emerged from stealth with $7.5 million in seed funding from Atlantic Bridge Associates. The company, whose founding team includes veterans of Cisco, Qualys, and Viptela, says its immediate focus is scaling up engineering, sales, and marketing teams ahead of its platform’s public launch.

According to a recent study published by the University of Maryland, hackers attack every 39 seconds (or about 2,244 times a day). The average time to identify a breach in 2019 was 206 days, at which point the cost could be in excess of $3.92 million. Kaspersky Lab reported a threefold year-over-year increase in smart gadget hacks in the first half of 2018, with one malware variant managing to infect 57,000 wireless security cameras.

Elsity’s product suite — Elisity Cognitive Trust — is designed to secure data while ensuring access without compromise. It combines the paradigm of zero trust access (meaning no user is trusted by default from inside or outside the network) and a software-defined perimeter to authorize users, devices, and apps based on policies before they can communicate with critical resources. Access is continually monitored by AI algorithms that track flows and user behavior to make actionable recommendations and that discover all of an organization’s assets to build an encrypted “e-mesh” overlay between a cloud services panel (the Elisity Control Plane) and network probes (Elisity policy decision points).

Devices can connect to the Elisity Cognitive Trust e-mesh — a software-defined, app-centric virtual network that runs atop existing transport networks — only if they’re configured with a policy. The e-mesh decouples app access from underlying network access, essentially assuming the network is inherently untrustworthy. Similar to a traditional virtual private network (VPN), services brought within the Elisity environment aren’t visible on the public internet and are thus largely shielded from attackers. Organizations can connect and secure access in campus, branch, and remote offices to apps in the cloud, multi-cloud, and datacenter environments.

CEO and cofounder Burjiz Pithawala says Elisity Cognitive Trust isn’t just a VPN replacement, but rather a platform that helps companies transition to zero trust across their digital footprint. The platform provides real-time information on who’s accessing resources and from where, and it allows admins to “nano-segment” environments based on traffic flow and machine identity. It also allows them to manage a unified access policy and support the requirements of remote access in a secure way, migrating workloads across clouds or within a VPN in a cloud.

Pithawala claims that Elisity Cognitive Trust allows enterprises in industries such as manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and health care to realize cost savings, time savings, and risk mitigation because they no longer have to rely on disparate software to protect access to assets. He says the platform reduces the total number of tools required to manage access without taking such access for granted.

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