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Secure Your Data with Software Defined Access

Safe-T is a leading provider of software-defined access solutions which mitigate attacks on enterprises’ business-critical services and sensitive data. In this interview, co founder and VP product Eitan Bremler explains what software defined access is all about, and why going digital means you can't trust anyone.

Please describe the company background

Safe-T was founded in March 2013 by our lead founder, Amir Mizhar. A few months later, myself and Shachar Daniel joined. Today, we have roughly 50 employees, mostly here in Israel where our R&D product marketing headquarters are located. We also have teams operating in the US, Europe and Asia. We have been publicly traded for two years on the stock market; we have been covered by Gartner, Forrester and others, and have received a variety of analyst awards.

What's unique about Safe-T’s solution?

Our main solution is called Software Defined Access. The idea is to control the entire data active access life cycle, including any piece of data, whether it's a file or an application.

We want to control how users access data. The user can be an internal or an external employee, a business partner, a customer, a contractor, etc. We control how a user accesses data by first authenticating the user and then providing access to the specific application they are permitted to access. Once access is granted, we control what the user can do with the data. For example, can the user upload, download, view, edit, or delete a file? Which web-pages in a backend can he access, and so on.

So, what is our uniqueness in this process? Firstly, we are the only vendor in the market today that can solve both access and usage in one solution. This gives us end-to-end control and end to end data protection.

Secondly, We have the ability to detect anomalies in user behavior. We can see which user accessed which data, and what they did with it, so we can detect anomalies in user behavior, which is only possible with end-to-end protection.

What can you tell us about Safe-T's Behavioral anomaly detector?

We have a module that looks at all data being logged. The anomaly detection module goes over all logged actions and scans the traffic to detect anomalies in the user behavior. Think about a user accessing storage outside of the usual business hours. This could be a sanctioned action if a user was instructed to go in after hours to back up a file, or it could be an unsanctioned action, if the user came in after hours with a personal agenda to copy files from storage. There are many different anomalies in user behavior that can be detected, because we can see all of the actions made in real time.

Our solution integrates with the organization’s existing infrastructure, their data stores and authentication measures. We don't store user data, we only store event logs, so there’s no privacy issue here.

What is a ZERO TRUST Digital business, and what differentiates it from a traditional business?

Until zero trust emerged as a concept, everything was based on trust. When you hired someone for work, you assumed that you can trust them, but often that wasn't the case. You can authenticate a user to make sure they are who they say they are, but that alone does not mean you can trust them.

The world is now moving to zero trust. You assume that everybody is untrusted, and that changes the way we look at users and how we provide access. First authenticate, then trust, and not the other way around like it was in the past.

Another term which is relevant is Software Defined Perimeters, which goes hand in hand with zero trust. We use it as a marketing perspective because we see that more and more organizations are adopting the zero trust approach. Organizations like banks, insurance companies, healthcare and government organizations, who all understand that along with the benefits of going digital, they are becoming more open and vulnerable to the outside world.

Fifty years ago, most organizations were like an island, because everything was done on paper. Employees were the only ones allowed to use data, without external parties like customers, business partners etc.

Now, as the world is becoming more digitized, more and more external parties are accessing our data. Our perimeter and attack surface have grown immensely, which is why we need to move to zero trust. We need to reduce the size of the perimeter and reduce the attack surface.

A recent article on the Safe-T blog warns that PGP encryption is no longer secure. How so?

PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy, is a pre-legacy mechanism for secure communications. As the sender, you encrypt the body of the email on your machine, send it to the recipient, and in turn, the recipient will need decrypt it. This is still relevant within an internal ecosystem. If we have the client for both encryption and decryption, that works effectively because you can re-encrypt and send the email back to the sender. The problem is when you work with an external party. For example, an insurance company wants to send a secure email to a client. They can’t demand the customer to install a client because they are not part of the internal ecosystem, so in this case, PGP doesn't work. Our solution does not require the client to install any software, so essentially, it’s a next generation PGP alternative.

How do you see the future of secure access control?

There’s a bit of conversion that’s going to happen with authentication vendors and identity management vendors. Safe-T invests a lot in technology partnerships, with vendors such as Check Point, Palo Alto, SecureAuth, DUO Security, Okta, NortonLIfeLock, and more. We also see organizations moving from traditional VPN access control to application-based access control, not necessarily for employees but mainly for external parties accessing internal data. The concept of access will change, and eventually with zero trust and software-defined perimeters will become the predominant approach.

About the Author

Ditsa Keren is a cybersecurity expert with a keen interest in technology and digital privacy.

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