CyCognito, a security startup which uses its own global bot network and nation state attack techniques to assess and prioritize digital risk for customers, is formalizing its channel strategy. They have announced the CyCognito Global Channel Program to better enable partners. They have also announced the appointment of Carrie Roberts as Senior Director of Global Channel Sales.
CyCognito is a 2017 startup which recently completed its Series B funding round. In a security-conscious world in which startups have emerged and established vendors have pivoted to help customers manage their attack surfaces, CyCognito believes they have a differentiated offering in the market. Leveraging their founders’ experience in the Israeli Defense Forces, they take the perspective of an attacker like a nation state to understand blind spots attackers can exploit, and provide an automated capability to defend against such attacks.
“There is a lot of noise today around looking at attack surfaces,” said Roberts, who has been at CyCognito for 90 days following channel management roles which included Mimecast and BeyondTrust. “Most companies look at defenses from a perimeter-focused, defensive perspective, but we look at the defenses from an attacker’s perspective. We also differ from pen testing, where you are given the defenses, by using our own bot network technology to scan and map everything back to a total network of assets. Then we perform security tests and prioritize on a Grade scale. This allows customers to manage cyberattacks and communicate back to stakeholders what they are doing to prevent these attacks from being successful.”
Key to the value proposition is identifying externally-exposed systems and digital assets that are either unknown, uncontrolled or abandoned, but which can account for much of an organization’s attack surface.
“Our attackers perspective allows us to also uncover indirect assets that affect attack surfaces,” said Jason Braun, Global VP of Sales at CyCognito. “With a financial services company which had a subsidiary, we identified a Cisco router between the two of them that was vulnerable. That would not have been caught by traditional solutions.”
CyCognito focused heavily on large enterprises in their proof of concept stage, and that’s an important market for them. Roberts said that their addressable market extends further downmarket, however.
“Our market is significantly broader than large enterprises,” she said. “Many large global enterprises have spent many millions to map their attack surfaces, and they have large IT organizations. But that next group of players down in the enterprise and midmarket, who don’t have the same kind of IT organizations – the hospitality chains, the large retailers – these benefit from this as well. So while we target the enterprise, the midmarket is a high opportunity area as well, especially for our channel partners.”
“We have every vertical covered in our existing partner base, and in all shapes and sizes,” Braun added. “It’s why partners are so valuable. They extend our reach into the many organizations who don’t have the ability to be proactive about this.”
Before Roberts’ arrival, CyCognito did have a handful of channel partners, who they had met at industry events like RSA, but there was no formal partner program previously.
“I was brought on to design the components of a program to make it easier to deal with us, and to help partners be able to make a stickier product,” Roberts said.
The plan is to add a broad range of partner types, including systems integrators, VARs, and MSSPs.
“Initially we have been very targeted in building a channel,” Roberts said. “We also thought that these partners would be regionally focused. We have been shocked that some of them have been larger global systems integrators like Wipro, and larger VARs. So we have been forced into expanding and making sure that we are easy to work with, to maintain a high level of customer and partner satisfaction. MSSPs can offload some of that heavy lifting.”
“As you go downmarket, MSSPs are invaluable,” Braun added.
The launch of the program was planned at this stage because of partner requests, even through the launch of a first program by a smaller company in the middle of COVID is hardly ideal.
“You may question the timing, but this is timing we had planned from the beginning and because there was a strong inbound partner request to make this happen,” Braun said. “With our Series B round, we had another wave of inbound requests.”
Some of the enablement tools are ready today, with the other slated to roll out as they are built.
“We have a small subset of tools available now, around training and enablement,” Roberts indicated. “In the next 30 days, we will build out more of the services side of the house. We need partners for that because we don’t do remediation. Some marketing and cobranded material is also available now.”
Braun said that CyCognito has a relatively easy time rolling out the platform to new partners because it’s not at all intricate by the standards of the sector.
“It’s not complex from training onboarding and enablement perspectives,” he said. “It’s 100% SaaS. There’s no VM to install, nothing at the customer site. Our enablement process gives us an unfair advantage.”
“We have a frictionless product, and we should have a frictionless channel program,” Roberts added. “Being easy to deal with us makes it so much easier.”
One thing that CyCognito would like to do is develop more of a Canadian channel presence, which as of now, is the Canadian branches of global GSIs.
“We are looking to get a better footprint within Canada and across Canada,” Roberts said. “We would be interested in working with Canadian-based partners. We have Canadian customers in Canada that we can use as a starting point.”