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10 Best Startups to Watch 2019

Securing the internet, one company at a time: Bluedog Security Monitoring

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Cybersecurity has grown to become an integral part of running a business. With malicious attackers becoming ever more audacious and targeting larger companies and government infrastructure, companies small and large have ramped up their investments in their cybersecurity infrastructure. However, with criminals using sophisticated techniques to infect their targets, establishing reliable security measures is becoming more expensive with each passing year. Small and upcoming firms find it difficult to hire security analysts to protect their interests. However, a company named Bluedog Security Monitoring has distinguished itself as a leading provider of highly effective cybersecurity services at a fraction of the cost of those provided by other established service providers.

Co-founded by a cybersecurity specialist proficient in hacking, Bluedog Security’s mantra is to provide an affordable security solution for small, cash-strapped companies. The company’s flagship product is a box called Sentinel which can be plugged into the network of a client to analyze the traffic and pinpoint any type of suspicious activity within minutes.

The company employs a team of highly skilled and experienced professionals who are well versed in numerous types of hacking techniques often used by adversaries. While there may be several ways to breach an organization’s systems, each of them has its own pattern and a trained eye can spot the signs foretelling malicious activity. The Sentinel, named after one of the characters of the Matrix film franchise, collects data about the entire organization’s activities on its network, allowing the Bluedog team to sift through the information gathered by Sentinel at the company’s Security Operations Center and search for signs of impending cyber-attacks. As soon as there is even a slight indication of suspicious activity either from an outside intruder or an insider, a thorough and comprehensive investigation is launched to find out the origin and cause.

In addition to finding out what’s wrong, Bluedog also helps its clients plug any holes in its security. After the conclusion of information gathering and the subsequent investigation, clients are informed about shortcomings in their company’s security systems and later on, Bluedog proceeds to fix the problem. This is one of the biggest differences between Bluedog and most of the other security service providers who only inform their clients about what’s missing. While corporations can find out what’s lacking without much difficulty, fixing the problem is a completely different ball game.

Loopholes in a company’s network can take many forms. While losses happen through external breaches, many others happen due to employee negligence, lack of sufficient investment or even malicious insider activity.

It should come as no surprise that numerous corporations that provide internet-based services or handle customer data are required by law to implement adequate security measures that prevent theft and misuse of data. While companies do undertake security measures, many of them happen to be only minimal, just to be technically compliant with the existing regulation. In other words, such measures are nothing more than a tick on a checkbox.

Bluedog Security however, also carries out an extensive overview of their client’s compliance measures. In light of the fact that Bluedog would have the complete information of a client’s systems, servers, and data traffic, it can paint an accurate portrait of the client’s compliance state. Availing this type of service has another benefit for customers. Since each company has to submit a detailed audit report of the state of its compliance, Bluedog’s Dashboard, after having gathered all the data for analysis, makes generating an audit report as easy as clicking a button. This kind of convenience saves a client the trouble of spending weeks of time and effort in compiling audit reports. Bluedog is capable of delivering a highly detailed report, often extending to thousands of pages, in a fraction of the time otherwise required.

One of the initial challenges that the company faced was to develop a degree of trust and reputation for its product. It had to struggle to convince prospective customers about the usefulness of its product. This was mostly due to the low price of its offerings. The company’s services begin at a mere €200 a month. This is actually a fraction of the usual expenses incurred for effective and competent cybersecurity solutions. For startups and medium-sized enterprises with limited funds, this seemed almost too good to be true. What Bluedog Security offered was top-notch solutions in the industry for throwaway prices.

This is possible partly due to the company’s proprietary technology and also due to its co-founder’s vision to make the internet a secure place where everyone can conduct transactions without fearing any attacks. Being an accomplished hacker himself, the co-founder of Bluedog Security, Tim Thurlings is well aware of the dangers of unprotected systems and what would happen if adequate steps are not taken to address the issue. He launched his company together with Mr. Paul Lomax, the CEO of bluedog, with the goal of making sure every business, whether large or small, in every industry, could afford effective security measures.

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One of the first security audits that Bluedog undertook was for a large accountancy firm whose identity cannot be revealed as per privacy policy. When Bluedog connected the Sentinel to the company’s servers, it revealed an accurate picture of the organization’s network infrastructure. What Bluedog found out was that many employees had violated company policy by downloading movies illegally and even surfing the dark web. Furthermore, what was shocking was that one of the employees had acquired unauthorized access to sensitive data that was above his pay grade. The employees who had been in violation were immediately identified and appropriate action was taken against them to remediate the risk they imposed to the company.

While the illegal downloads and browsing may or may not have had long-term consequences, the unauthorized access to mission-critical company data might have had serious implications. To sum it up, Bluedog Security takes a more proactive approach to cybersecurity, rather than a reactive one that is taken after the damage is done. It means continuous non-stop vigilance and round the clock analysis of systems. That is made possible, thanks in no small part, to the affordability of Bluedog’s solutions.

In spite of having developed such market winning technology, Tim firmly believes that his employees and not the Sentinel are his company’s greatest assets. His belief stems from his vast experience as a cyber-security professional. According to him, any technology is only as good as the people that deploy and use it. Any piece of software, however, advanced cannot beat the ingenuity, creativity and most of all the innate instincts of experienced professionals. The team at Bluedog comprises of 20 talented individuals who sift through all the mountain loads of data using advanced tools to spot signs of unusual activity. While the Sentinel does an extraordinary job of gathering information about a company’s ongoings, it is up to the people to make sense of it. The bigger their clientele gets, the larger the amount of incoming data. A company of even a hundred employees could generate thousands of hits in a day under normal circumstances.

But when a client is big, with over a thousand employees and various ongoing processes, the data traffic generated is humongous. The sheer amount of hits generated could be in the tens of thousands. Thus, it takes a trained eye to spot the subtle signs of abnormal activity. What makes this process an enormous challenge is the fact that a team of 20 people needs to comb through tons and tons of data, often millions of hits a day, in order to see if everything is functioning within the acceptable parameters of established norms.

One of the major challenges in the cybersecurity industry today is the availability of talent. The rise of startup accelerators and numerous venture capitalists today, combined with cheaper and faster internet in many third world countries together, have given rise numerous startups offering a plethora of services. While the software and IT industry experienced rapid growth, it also increased the number of targets for malicious attackers. Additionally, with user data playing a major role in all the available services, criminals have been getting increasingly creative. This has increased the importance of cybersecurity manifold. However, the number of people skilled at security is by no means sufficient to provide reliable security for the IT industry. This dearth has come to the attention of Bluedog Security and the company means to fill the talent gap plaguing many companies.

The company is all geared up to start the Bluedog Academy where it will carry out a comprehensive four-year training program for people passionate about cybersecurity. The curriculum would cover everything related to cyber threats and also include studies of all the different methods that attackers use to breach systems. It would go a long way in imbuing the necessary skillset in talented individuals to combat cybercrime.

Placing a high emphasis on people and not the technology, Bluedog Security gives a significant degree of autonomy to its employees. The environment in the office is fairly relaxed and employees enjoy a sufficient amount of freedom to the point of getting the job done. Additionally, Bluedog encourages its employees to attend conferences on cybersecurity to remain updated on the latest trends and technologies. Moreover, the team also carries out its own research and publishes white papers on a regular basis. In addition to that, the entire team conducts reverse engineering on various types of viruses and malware to discern its workings and the mindset of the criminals who designed them.

This practice is instrumental in helping the company understand how viruses and malware work and develop newer ways to identify and combat them.

Bluedog Security was founded with a vision to help corporations defend against bad actors who seek to harm and disrupt. With a firm belief in its technology and people, Bluedog Security strives to make the internet a safer place.

Meet the visionary behind Bluedog Security, Tim Thurlings

Ever since he was a little boy, Tim was fascinated by computers and the fact that people made them work. He would take apart computers and reassemble them to understand them better and try to improve them. With a dream to make the world a better place, Tim joined medical school, so that he could improve people’s lives directly. However, his interest in computers far outweighed that in medicine and it was only a matter of time before he found himself experimenting with programming and hacking.

Tim Thurlings envisioned a world where the window for attacks was reduced to the minimum, which would go on to decrease cyber-attacks. This provided the motivation to launch Bluedog Security Monitoring. The company today boasts of numerous clients that belong to various sectors such as banking, finance, insurance, telecommunications, etc.

“Our goal is to provide businesses with a level of network protection typically only afforded by large corporations.”­­