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10 hot security startups to watch

Ellen Messmer | July 11, 2013
Whether it's mobile, cloud, virtualization or SDN, these start-ups are taking up the security challenges.

Another start-up debuting in February was Stormpath, with its identity and access-control cloud-based service primarily intended for use by software-development teams that are building web applications.

The cloud service can be used in a variety of ways to provide a ready-made authentication layer and workflow process that developers can turn to for use in programming environments, says Alex Salazar, Stormpath's CEO. "You don't have to worry about storing passwords, or groups, or roles for users."

Salazar founded the San Mateo, Calif.-based company in 2010 with chief technology officer Les Hazlewood. Stormpath's identity management service competes not only against open-source cloud provider ForgeRock's Open SSO product but also products from IBM and Oracle.

Stormpath has received $8.2 million in venture funding led by New Enterprise Associates and Pelion Venture Partners, with participation from Flybridge Capital Partners, following an earlier round of about $1.7 million.

Another start-up, vArmour Networks, is taking on the challenge of firewall security in fully virtualized networks, including the emerging area of software-defined networking.  Beginning to emerge from stealth mode, vArmour was established in Santa Clara, in January 2011 by CEO Roger Lian and Michael Shieh, field applications engineer. Both have backgrounds working at NetScreen, the firewall vendor acquired by Juniper.

With vArmour, Lian and Hsieh say they're creating a firewall for fully virtualized network environments, including SDN. "We're pioneering a new type of software-defined security," Lian says. Shieh adds that traditional firewalling methods defined by physical appliances "is not sufficient" for SDN or other kinds of fully-virtualized networks.

The first vArmour firewalling product, now in beta evaluation trials with undisclosed companies, is called SDSec. It's described as a virtual firewall appliance that can be deployed in any hypervisor environment for application-based control of subnets and other tasks. "We scale the data plane as needed," says Lian.

The vArmour firewalling approach is intended to be "vendor agnostic" and not dependent on any vendor-specific architectures related to virtual-machine software, OpenFlow or SDN technologies, the two co-founders say.

While vArmour is not yet announcing general availability or pricing for SDSec, Lian and Shieh  voice confidence they will meet the security challenges related to the next generation of network virtualization and SDN. The start-up has received about $8 million in venture-capital funding from Highland Capital Partners.

Our final start-up, Watchful Software, is seeking to revitalize the technology known as digital rights management by expanding it beyond traditional platforms like Microsoft Windows PCs into mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone.

The company's RightsWatch product that came out in March builds on top of Microsoft's Active Directory Rights Management Services technology but extends it to non-Microsoft platforms and makes it easier to use, says CEO Charles Foley. He founded the Medford, N.J.-based company along with Bernardo Patrao and Rui Biscaia as a spin-out from Citadel Software based in Portugal. The start-up has disclosed $1 million in venture-capital funding from Critical Ventures.


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