As security researchers gather at Defcon in Vegas, it felt appropriate to profile a startup trying to make the internet of things a bit more secure. I literally hear from dozens of startups each week trying to “secure the IoT,” in part because it’s a sexy, well-funded area and in part because the IoT is so large that it requires several different layers of security.
Elements associated with device security range from secure enclaves to protocols for ensuring no one can change the device firmware or spoof data. There are encryption efforts designed to require less computational power and battery drain. On the network side, there are efforts to monitor traffic to and from connected devices as well as proprietary protocols for secure tunneling efforts. In the cloud, there are monitoring efforts, spoofing services that search for weak points, and more.
Stratus Digital Systems is not like any of these companies. CEO and Co-founder Greta Geankoplis has built a company that is trying to secure connected devices by ensuring they don’t connect directly to a corporate network. Instead, the devices connect to a hastily spun-up server in a data center (the data center can belong to the customer or a cloud provider) where their behavior is analyzed. If it passes muster, the device data can be passed along to the corporate network.
Essentially Stratus creates an airlock for connected devices. What’s different from other security offerings is that the airlock changes for every connection. The airlock server could spin up on Google’s cloud or AWS or wherever Stratus has permission to put it. The customer defines where the airlock can live; Stratus’s software makes it happen.
Such an airlock won’t stop every threat, but it will stop attacks that try to access a network and deploy malware or those that compromise a device on the edge and then try to use that device to access other network resources.
Many industrial companies use a physical gateway on-premise for this type of security between their operational technology network and their IT network. The device takes traffic from the machines or safety systems and extracts the necessary data. The gateway then sends the data onto the IT network. The IT traffic doesn’t get to flow onto the OT network at all.
Stratus started out in 2016 with a plan for bringing its product to medium-sized businesses that didn’t have a lot of security resources. It has since found out that there is far more interest and understanding of the product within large Fortune 500 companies. They understand the threat facing them and have the money to pay for a solution.
Stratus has raised $5 million from private investors and is seeking its next round of funding as it changes its market focus. Also on the roadmap is a software update that will allow the software to run on containers, which will increase the flexibility of the offering, plus provide marketers the ability to discuss their “container strategy.”