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sky high securitythe recently announced name for McAfee Enterprise’s security service edge business, has a significant growth opportunity ahead of it thanks to its unique “data intelligence” approach to meeting customers’ cloud security needs, it said. CEO Gee Rittenhouse to VentureBeat.
“The data is now in the cloud, in [software-as-a-service] SaaS, in your data center. It is everywhere. And because of the pandemic, users are everywhere too,” Rittenhouse said in an interview. “We have really focused on how the data is used. And that allowed us to see the problem very differently than others, and radically simplify the problem.”
Typically, to protect data, a company will set policies on endpoints, in the cloud, and on SaaS applications, but “trying to keep track of all of this is tricky,” he said.
Instead, what Skyhigh Security does with its “data policy engine” is that all policies are “attached to the data itself,” Rittenhouse said. “That allows you to protect it, to see it, to understand where it goes, who is sharing it, and to do so in a much easier way.”
Ultimately, that provides a “very rich experience that can follow the data as you add new controls and new capabilities,” he said.
For the purposes of data loss prevention (DLP), for example, “everything is in the cloud and it’s cloud-native and you can protect all those assets. But what separates us a lot is the fact that it is extensible to the endpoint,” Rittenhouse said. “And having that capability, whether the data is at your endpoint, through the cloud, is the key differentiator.”
cloud security suite
Along with Cloud DLP, Skyhigh Security’s offerings include Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), Browser Isolation Technology remote, cloud firewall, and cloud native application protection platform (CNAPP).
Within CNAPP, Skyhigh provides capabilities including cloud workload protection, container security, and cloud security posture management (CSPM) to detect misconfigurations in cloud infrastructure.
Notably, much of the core functionality that is part of Skyhigh Security can be traced back to the original Skyhigh Networks, a startup that was acquired by McAfee in 2018. And many members of that team are still at the company now known as Skyhigh Security. Rittenhouse noted.
In January, private equity firm Symphony Technology Group revealed that McAfee Enterprise’s perimeter security services business would operate as a separate business from the rest of the company. The remainder of the McAfee Enterprise business merged with FireEye is renamed Trellix, with a focus on Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions.
Symphony later announced that Rittenhouse, who was previously general manager of Cisco’s security business group, would serve as CEO of the company now known as Skyhigh Security.
However, Skyhigh Security does not currently operate as a separate legal entity from Trellix, and some administrative staff continues to be shared between the two companies, Rittenhouse said.
Trellix and Skyhigh are more “sister organizations,” he said. “But we have separate marketing, separate product, separate marketing.”
The business now known as Skyhigh delivered revenue growth in 2021 and expects to grow again in 2022, though Rittenhouse said he couldn’t provide more details. The company has 3,000 clients, with a focus on financial services, health and government.
Skyhigh Security, based in San Jose, California, has 700 employees, Rittenhouse said. There are no imminent plans to consider taking the company public, he said.
‘Leader’ in SSE
In February, research firm Gartner positioned the business now known as Skyhigh Security in the inaugural Magic Quadrant of the “Leaders” quadrant for Security Service Edge (SSE). Only two other providers, Zscaler and Netskope, landed in the SSE Leaders quadrant.
SSE includes the security-specific components (CASB, ZTNA, and SWG) of the solution category known as Secure Access Serving Edge (SASE).
“Customers are building their SASE solutions into two components: the network component and the security component. And those are typically different buying moves,” Rittenhouse said. “They can also be at different points in time. They can do their network transformation first and then add security second, or vice versa. I think there’s a recognition, both from a Magic Quadrant perspective and from an industry perspective, that these two really are separate.”
In terms of future product development, Skyhigh plans to focus on enhancing its capabilities to protect cloud workloads and bring more automation, it said.
For example, if a user tries to visit a malicious website, they would normally be blocked, but through capabilities now working on Skyhigh, the user could automatically switch to remote browser isolation, Rittenhouse said.
Or if a worker is using data incorrectly, they could be automatically prompted to log in again, he said.
“So there’s this dynamic element in the policy that extends zero trust beyond the login event, to how the data is used,” Rittenhouse said.
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