When we open applications for the UpRamp Fiterator cohort, we get hundreds of companies telling us why they would be a perfect ‘fit’ for the connectivity industry. And many of them are: we know this because we spend a significant amount of time with our members learning about their pain points, and we know how to find the startups that will solve these pain points.
Occasionally though, we come across a company that not only blows our minds with its technology, but is also perfectly suited to enter into our industry. Their technology, combined with some inherent element of their business, makes them a no-brainer.
This year, when we first heard from King & Union, we were psyched. Their core product, Avalon, is a platform that fosters collaboration between cybersecurity teams and streamlines analyst work. The nature of Avalon makes King & Union an easy fit for the connectivity industry: because our members already collaborate through CableLabs, they're in the position to continue working together through this platform to improve cybersecurity for the greater good.
There’s little question about the benefits of collaboration. Aside from combining skillsets, experiences, and backgrounds, collaboration creates an environment in which new ideas can be developed and built. According to behavioral scientist Dr. Peter McGraw, one person’s bad idea can spark an idea for another person that leads to a winning idea.
Now, this is all easy to ascribe to teams within the same company, with everyone working toward the same goal of sharing data and ideas for the protection of the company. But in the intercompany space, and especially when looking within a single industry, it’s a bit different. Businesses working towards competing goals are unlikely to want to share information that could make the company look back or collaborate in a way that would negate a competitive benefit.
However, as other industries have learned, sharing this type of sensitive data across companies helps all the companies better protect themselves from devastating cybersecurity intrusions. When businesses embrace collective interests and help each other to identify bad traffic and indicators of intrusions into corporate networks, along with working together to identify people and organizations attacking their networks, everyone benefits. Smaller companies benefit from learning good cybersecurity practices from larger companies, and larger companies benefit from seeing intrusions on other companies before those same attacks are used against their networks. Everyone benefits from the collective wisdom of the combined group.
Fortunately, we’re lucky enough to be in an industry that has a history of collaboration to develop new technologies. Our cable member network, the largest network in the world, is willing to work together for the good of their industry. As a result, collaboration is very much on the table - meaning that a platform such as Avalon doesn’t require extensive convincing as it might in other industries.
And that’s a good thing, because King & Union’s Avalon is pretty awesome. According to co-founder and CEO John Cassidy, the platform is both creating a community of cybersecurity analysts and enabling them to harness the power of generating and correlating data.
That’s not to say that collaboration within cybersecurity is a brand-new venture. It’s not. But until the creation of Avalon, communications were ad-hoc, often by email and Slack messages. The whole setup is unstructured and informal, something that King & Union attributes to the relatively new place of cybersecurity within most companies.
And, as the guys from King & Union note, the background of many cybersecurity analysts is beneficial as well. Many of them have government backgrounds, coming into the private sector from roles within intelligence agencies and the military. As a result, the focus on security efforts over brand loyalty makes using the platform a clear choice.
The platform is a mutually beneficial one - meaning that the more companies using it, the better the results are for everyone. Avalon allows cybersecurity collectively research and report on activity of interest, whether involving an IP address, domain, or malware sample. This means that while King & Union itself is not a cybersecurity service, and can’t prevent ‘Breach Zero’, it allows analysts at other companies to prevent the same breach from taking place. So while one company may still experience an attack, others who see the data can avoid the same attack.
According to John, Avalon is harnessing the power of the best analysts in the world and creating a community. This means, at least within our industry, that not only will cybersecurity teams within each company work better together, but analysts across all 60 members - and beyond - will be able to speed up remediation, work together, and learn from each other’s analyses as they work towards a common goal.
Ultimately, our reason for choosing King & Union to join the 2017 cohort of the Fiterator stemmed from their unique approach towards cybersecurity: formalizing the collaboration that has taken place among members for years. But now, with just a few weeks to go in the program, it’s become unquestionably clear to us how well Avalon will fit into the cybersecurity efforts of our members - businesses with similar needs and a willingness to collaborate.
And here at UpRamp, we love it when everybody wins.