The Cyber Security industry has been toying with the idea of Moving Target Defense for ages, but they said it couldn’t be implemented. MORPHISEC, a local startup, proved them wrong ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Much like bank robbers, hackers plan their attack for months – they study the architecture (of either the bank or the code), locate security, look for loopholes and vulnerabilities and asses the economic value of the attack. Now imagine, if after all that planning comes D-day, but the guards are not where they’re supposed to be and the vaults have moved. That’s exactly the idea behind MORPHISEC: Moving Target Defence.
Current cyber defense systems, which you may know as anti-viruses, work like an immune system. They identify an intruder and upgrade their defenses for next time. But in this scenario, the malicious attackers, the bacteria if you will, have the advantage; they evolve, change and attack anew.
The solution? Think the other way around – instead of reacting to a changing attack, change the defense! Easier said than done. Though being a huge trend, no one was able to implement Moving Target Defense in a way stable and adaptive to the dynamic environment of enterprise IT; until some years ago, when prof. Yuval Elovici, and his team – Dr. Mordechai Guri & Dudu Mimran, from our very own Cyber@BGU, did the impossible.
Under the name Titanium, they submitted their technology to JVP’s startup competition “Cybertition” and won first place, as well as a $1M investment and a place at the VC’s incubator. But being researchers, neither of the 3 partners was in a position to forgo their academic career and run a startup and so, Ronen Yehoshua was recruited. At first, he was reluctant to consider leading a seed stage startup, as he was looking to lead a later stage company, but who can say no to such an innovation?!
18 months later, with 14 team members, a new name MORPHISEC (Morphing Security, get it?) and $8.5M in investments, they were free as birds to take their startup anywhere in the country, or abroad; but they chose to stay right here, in the Advanced Technology Park. Why here of all places? Ronen lists 3 reasons:
The government grants tax relief on employment for companies at the park, and being a software company, most of the expenses are in fact – manpower (women too, but it’s a whole different entry).
Employee retention. Not only are BGU’s graduates top-notch professionals, and make wonderful employees; they are also more loyal than workers who live and work in the center of Israel. Thus, making the investment in their training worth the while. Fun fact: MORPHISEC employs over 53 people right here in Beer-Sheva (in addition to 20 more world wide), and they’re looking to hire more.
“I just fell in love with this place”. Me too Ronen, me too.
Are they happy to have stayed? No doubt about it! “The eco-system here is golden” says Ronen. “Cyber Spark brought over a delegation to hear about our product. Little did we know it was being led by Adrian Asher, Later a Chief Security Officer of the London Stock Exchange. Guess what? The London Stock Exchange is now being guarded by MORPHISEC.”
Before I left, I HAD to know this one thing -> Ronen, has anyone tried to hack MORPHISEC? “We’re a major player now, of course they tried. Unsuccessfully”
So yeah, the Negev is AWESOME!