Redback: Cyber security for the rest of us


Redback: Cyber security for the rest of us

As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands, and more and more devices in homes and businesses connect to the internet, keeping devices, and the data they move, safe becomes more complicated.

Recognising the risk posed by a growing number of connected devices, Chris Rock of SIEMonster and Carl Nerup of Cog Systems, two veterans of Australia’s cyber security industry, combined their companies’ talents to create a device to help small businesses and homeowners secure the increasing number of IoT devices in their home or business. SIEMonster’s and Cog’s Redback appliance uses the cloud to let customers monitor their devices and protect their data with their phones.

Voted one of the 10 hottest products at RSA 2018, the world’s biggest cyber security conference, Redback will soon make security for IoT devices available at an affordable price worldwide.

Austrade’s Landing Pad: A birthplace for great ideas

The lightbulb moment for Redback came at Silicon Valley’s 2018 SINET cyber security conference, as Rock and Nerup listened to security professionals highlight the problems confronting IoT.

The two entrepreneurs met, and attended SINET, as part of the San Francisco Landing Pad’s first Cyber Security Cohort in January 2018. Administered by Austrade, the Landing Pads program helps Australian market-ready startups and scaleups take their business global in five innovation hubs around the world, including Berlin, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore and Tel Aviv. During their 90-day residency, Rock and Nerup spent many hours together at the San Francisco Landing Pad’s WeWork co-working space.

Working in proximity, Rock, SIEMonster’s CEO, recognised that ‘Cog’s software specialises in securing [data traveling between] IoT devices – and I had an IoT product [to monitor device security], and we thought, if we could combine the two together, it would be a great solution.’

Cog and SIEMonster also realised that monitoring devices currently on the market were both big and very expensive, and not necessarily secure themselves.

They resolved to shrink their existing security systems into an affordable micro device that would work in a home and corporate environment. It would be small enough to use on the hop, in any place with wi-fi.

‘Every home on average will have 200 to 300 IoT devices, from your television, router, appliances, to your lights,’ explains Nerup, chief marketing officer of Cog. ‘Anything electric is going to become part of that connected home.’

All these connections generate information.

That’s where Redback comes in.

‘Redback ensures the data going in is encrypted and also encrypted going into the SIEMonster Cloud,’ says Rock. ‘So for a very small device it’s very secure. If the device gets stolen, the data doesn’t go with it. Cog, via its D4 Secure platform, ensure that the Redback device is secure.’

Protecting and securing data

The problem of securing data grows as the number of connected devices increases. Every device that is connected creates an opportunity for bad guys to steal information or breach your privacy.

Nerup explains that ‘Cog makes sure the data that comes off that device is as good as what’s coming in. We can provide a high degree of assurance … that the data collected is accurate, true and secure.’

Redback sends alerts about hacking attempts and firmware updates instantly to customers’ smartphones or mobile devices. The combination of storage encryption, a dedicated security operations centre and a secure VPN makes it unique in the market.

The Redback appliance is expected to be commercially available in the third quarter of 2018.

Collaboration + co-innovation = success

Nerup calls Austrade’s Landing Pad ‘a petri dish’ where great ideas and like-minded people come together. He believes programs like the Landing Pad’s Cyber Cohort that bring together entrepreneurs from the same industry are key to building innovation in Australia.

‘One advantage of our Landing Pad experience was that there [were] a lot of cyber security companies in the pool,’ says Nerup. ‘We spoke the same (tech) language. We understood what the other people did, but the underlying reason we got on so well was that we both value relationships. A lot of people are transactional. We’re not.'

Both Rock and Nerup credit Michelle Price, CEO of the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network (AustCyber) with getting Australia to the top of the game, describing her leadership as commercially and intellectually strategic.

'One of Australia’s real challenges is to cultivate and support entrepreneurs,’ says Nerup. ‘That’s where the help needs to go.’

‘It would be my hope that Austrade and AustCyber continue to collaborate and invest in each other, because, from that, you get a 1 + 1 = 3, as with Chris and me. If it wasn’t for both organisations, we wouldn’t have Redback.’

As Cloud and IoT technologies crystallise, cyber security will need boosting. Collaboration and co-innovation is essential. As Rock puts it: ‘You get great ideas that may not be successful on their own, but together they can prosper.’