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30 Innovative Brands of the Year 2023

In our world, recovery is everything and we want to be known as the most innovative and secure backup solution on the market: Eric Simmons, CEO of Asigra

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“Asigra focuses on the intersection between backup and cyber in unique ways that provide several unique layers of protection against both external and insider threats.”

Asigra is an award-winning, agentless enterprise backup and recovery platform that proactively hunts ransomware. With its proprietary technology, Asigra provides organizations around the world the ability to securely backup and restore their data through a network of partners who deliver cloud backup and recovery services as public, private, and/or hybrid deployments.

Asigra was founded in 1986 and is based in Toronto, Ontario.

The Silicon Review reached out to Eric Simmons, CEO of Asigra, and here’s what he had to say.

Interview Highlights

Q. Why was Asigra born? What problem did you set out to solve?

Asigra’s origin story is like many others; a founder that had a problem, could not find a solution, and set out to build a company to solve this problem for everyone. Asigra is a pioneer in the backup space. Our founder, David Farajun, was programming when he suddenly lost the work that he was doing. He asked the IT team of the organization if they could recover his work. When they were not able to do so, he looked for a third-party solution. When this did not exist, he began his quest to build Asigra. Asigra was set up to provide backup and recovery services for businesses and has done so highly successfully for 30 years.

As ransomware became more sophisticated and bad elements started to focus on attacking a company’s last line of defence (in not having to pay ransomware), Asigra continues to innovate to protect its partner and their customers’ data. Asigra has implemented a highly unique and industry-leading Deep-6 Security stack that puts us at the forefront of the integration between backup and cyber security.

Q. In your opinion, why are certain companies unaware of the risks hiding in their own networks?

This is a topic I could talk about all day. There are many reasons, but I will focus on a couple of critical ones. One of the core challenges is that backup sits in IT admin within an organization and is not necessarily a key focus of many businesses’ security practices. This disconnect has delayed advancements in cyber protection for backup software solutions.

A second impact is that most backup providers are still relying on air-gapped and immutable storage as the best method to protect a company’s backup data. These are no longer sufficient. Ransomware has not stopped evolving over the past five years, but organizations are still led to believe our approach to new attacks does not need to evolve with them.

Q. What does Asigra bring to the table? What are its focus areas?

Asigra focuses on the intersection between backup and cyber in unique ways that provide several unique layers of protection against both external and insider threats. We are in the Ultra Secure Backup Space and continue to innovate and evolve with market conditions.

Q. Can you introduce us to your innovative services? What are their key features?

Asigra has many key features including a unique agentless architecture that allows us to innovate faster due to not being constrained by performance issues related to agents. I will address a few of our most unique cybersecurity elements. The following are the three core elements of our Deep-6 Security system.

Bi-directional Anti-Malware Scanning

Dormant Ransomware/Trojan Horse Attacks: By inserting dormant malware into a file, malware avoids detection and is backed up into both immutable and air-gapped backups. Months later, when the network encrypts, the victim finds their backups are infected also, creating an attack loop.

Asigra uses a technique called bidirectional antimalware scanning. This feature works by scanning data (in-line) prior to backup, then upon restoration after an attack, the data is scanned again before reaching the live environment. This allows previously dormant malware to be detected and quarantined.

CDR – Content Disarm & Reconstruction Technology

Deeply Embedded Ransomware/Trojan Horse Attack: Some deeply embedded malware cannot easily be scanned by antimalware. This means that ransomware may inadvertently be backed up into immutable and air-gapped repositories setting up another attack loop scenario.

In September 2022, Asigra introduced bidirectional scanning with Content Disarm & Reconstruction (CDR). This technology is designed to detect embedded malware that antimalware can’t identify. CDR breaks files down, quarantines malware, and reconstructs the files to block the attack loop. This is critical as the document reconstruction provides a clean copy of the document that is now safe and useable by the business. During the recovery, at the highest security, setting a zero-trust.

DeepMFA (Multi-Person Authentication)– External and Internal Threat Protection

Credential Theft: If attackers gain access to the backup system, they can simply delete backup sets, change retention policies, and re-route data to their own repository.

Asigra employs a zero-trust framework with biometric Multifactor Authentication (MFA) to access the system and multi-person authorization for any actions such as the ones mentioned to ensure the actions are intentional and not destructive.

Q. How does Asigra create and sustain a culture of innovation?

Asigra’s culture has been one of innovation since its inception. How we have enhanced this focus by moving to a model of inspiration and inspirational leadership. Determining an individual’s purpose in life and how they can bring this focus into being inspiring in every interaction. We share these to build trust and an environment where everyone has a voice and is encouraged to share their ideas. Innovation in its purest form stems from inspiration, trust, and smart risk-taking. People need to know that it is okay to make mistakes. They will happen, resolve them, and move forward.

Will Asigra be expanding, bringing on any new services we should be aware of?

Asigra is continuously looking to bring innovations, features, and products to help best serve our partners and their customers. We integrated CDR into our product this year which is an industry first and 2023 promises to be very exciting in this regard.

Q. What’s the one thing you want to be known for?

In our world, “recovery is everything” and we want to be known as the most innovative and secure backup solution on the market.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add before we break up?

We have covered a lot in a short time, and I would suggest that people reach out to Asigra to see in greater detail what has kept us a multi-award-winning organization year after year. If your data is as important to you as we believe it is, see how you can best protect it.

Eric Simmons | CEO

Eric Simmons has over 25 years of expertise in leading business innovation, enterprise sales, strategic partnerships, marketing, operations, product management, professional services, and customer focus. He was previously the Chief Strategy Office at IMC. IMC develops custom digital solutions solving critical business challenges for many Fortune 1,000 companies. It also focuses on AI and Natural Language Machine Learning. Eric helped launch BiasProof, an unconscious bias test and training tool to complement organizations’ Diversity Equity & Inclusion strategies.

Prior to joining IMC, Mr. Simmons was the CEO of Altum Health, a for-profit division of the University Health Network (UHN). Altum Health provides surgery and multi-disciplinary rehabilitation to people injured at work. Eric led Altum Health to its highest revenue and profit margin in 25 years of business including winning a $300M+ contract with the WSIB.

Mr. Simmons held senior leadership across many leading organizations. He was in charge of Automotive Innovation at Canadian Tire and the General Manager of IoT at Roger Communication. Eric led the software and peripherals business at Dell in Canada & LATAM.

Mr. Simmons owned Blizzard Courier Services which he grew to be the largest same-day courier in Toronto. He then sold his ownership position.

“We have covered a lot in a short time, and I would suggest that people reach out to Asigra to see in greater detail what has kept us a multi-award-winning organization year over year. If your data is as important to you as we believe it is, see how you can best protect it.”