Ameesh Divatia talks with CyberNews about the most efficient ways enterprises can protect sensitive data in the cloud

Cybernews Baffle Interview

Large-scale businesses, healthcare sectors, and government institutions are often primary targets of cyberattacks due to the extensive amounts of sensitive data they possess. 

Hackers turn their heads towards those sectors, expecting them to be more willing to pay a ransom, especially since for many, the disruption to critical infrastructure may lead to huge financial losses and even lost lives. 

To avoid such attacks, an increasing number of institutions is not only relying on system-based security solutions but also switched to keeping sensitive data on the cloud instead of on-site servers. However, cloud data requires equally strong protection from potential attacks. 

We talked with the Co-Founder and CEO of Baffle, Ameesh Divatia, about the most efficient and easiest ways how enterprises can protect cloud information.

Baffle has grown exponentially since your start in 2015. Can you tell us about your journey?

Baffle started as an academic challenge with the customary what if scenario. From there, it quickly became an engineering challenge. We took a few turns and adapted to customer needs to land where we are now. 

The first turn was a transition from focusing on the code used to manipulate data to the data itself. Along the way, we found cloud migration to be our driver with privacy regulations creating a real sense of urgency among clients and prospects. Baffle’s solution helps organizations secure data, allowing them to move more information to the cloud faster without compromising data privacy.  

Baffle has more than 30 enterprise customers across multiple industries, financial services, health, and government – including top five global financial services companies in production deployments and five of the top 25 global companies. 

We protect more than 100B records across financial services, healthcare, retail, industrial IoT, and government. Salesforce has about 1 trillion records to put that into perspective. So Baffle is already protecting data on the scale of 1/10 of everything in Our partners include all large cloud platforms: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, and Snowflake.

Currently, our funding is $36.5M. The latest round was led by Celesta Venture Capital, with contributions from National Grid Partners, Lytical Ventures, Nepenthe Capital, and follow-on investments from True Ventures, Greenspring Associates, Clearvision Ventures, Engineering Capital, and Triphammer Ventures.

You often emphasize the need to look at data protection from a different angle. Could you tell us more about your vision?

Traditional security approaches focus on observing behavior to detect anomalies. We turned that approach on its head. Suppose we secure sensitive data proactively, as soon as it is created. In that case, it does not matter if it is hacked. All that’s lost  is the transformed data which is unreadable and unusable to someone who does not have the authorization to see it. Building on this, we believe that security will be built-in and act as an integral part of the data analytics pipeline as new data gets created, transported, and processed.

With more organizations looking to implement security measures, why do you think people are still hesitant when it comes to data encryption?

Data encryption was invented a few decades ago. As it was introduced into the data ecosystem, it broke everything. It slowed the applications to a crawl, and the encrypted data could not be processed without decrypting it. But, more importantly, the data owner feared losing the keys used to protect that data.

Are data encryption solutions more relevant for individual users or enterprises?

Preserving privacy is an individual right while providing security for sensitive data is an enterprise’s duty. These two factors are interrelated, so if an individual uses an enterprise’s services, they have the right to demand an encryption solution that works. An effective data encryption solution enhances an enterprise’s reputation and is not just a necessary evil but a competitive differentiator.

How did the pandemic influence the ways in which threat actors operate?

With the world moving online, threat actors are having a field day! The FBI published numbers that show a 300% increase in cybercrime because anything done in a hurry is bound to be vulnerable. 

When companies think they can take shortcuts to keep their businesses running, they leave sensitive data unprotected, which is more dangerous and costly than if they had taken time to protect data from the start properly.

It is evident that the recent adoption of work-from-home policies presented various security challenges. What would you consider to be the best safety practices for companies with the highest rates of remote employees?

  • Establish a comprehensive data security policy with rules for password creation, access rules depending on persona, and implement good security policies, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • Invest in advanced security capabilities such as user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) to detect unauthorized access.
  • Analyze data protection policies for securing data in the infrastructure that remote users access and ensure that only encrypted data can be exfiltrated if security controls fail.

Are there any security measures that are widely used today that you think don’t do the job anymore or have some little-known issues?

The best traditional security practice is protecting data at rest since companies used to protect against theft of physical disks from data centers. This is no longer a threat with the transition to the cloud and physical security improvements. Now, companies must focus on the theft of the data itself, which is not defended by at-rest protection. 

However, the at-rest encryption is now being upgraded to in-use encryption, which significantly improves the security posture by ensuring that only encrypted data is exfiltrated if security controls fail.

What types of attacks do you think are going to emerge as a result of advancing cybersecurity measures?

With increased cybersecurity attacks, enterprises are adopting more security controls, as evidenced by massive increases in spending. However, hackers are always one step ahead. They have found more sophisticated methods, such as infiltrating the supply chain for software and embedding zero-day vulnerabilities that can be exploited. 

Unfortunately, reactive measures, such as observation and detection, cannot keep up. So, the protection model must transform to ensure that the controls are fail-safe and proactively protect sensitive data.

And finally, what’s next for Baffle?

Baffle bookings and customer count both grew by 300% over the past year. We achieved this growth with a steadfast commitment to evolving customer needs beyond traditional relational databases to data lakes and warehouses. Baffle’s unique value proposition of inserting our solution seamlessly during the ingest and consume phases of the data pipeline is setting us up for success in 2022 and the future. Securing sensitive data cannot be an afterthought; it must be built into how data is processed, guaranteeing that none of it is ever exfiltrated.

Originally published in CyberNews

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