Check Point co-founder backs cyber security start-up

Check Point co-founder backs cyber security start-up

One of Israel’s leading cyber security entrepreneurs has launched a start-up with the aim of defending networks in the cloud against attackers. Shlomo Kramer, co-founder of Check Point and Imperva, two of the country’s biggest cyber security companies, has raised $20m for the new Tel Aviv-based start-up Cato Networks.

The significant A round was led by US Venture Partners and Aspect Ventures, the Silicon Valley venture capital firms.

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Cato Networks hopes to convert companies to a cloud-based system that it believes is more suitable for modern IT infrastructures rather than relying on the “hodge podge” of appliances many use.

Mr Kramer said there was a “huge problem” with the gap between how networks are secured — with technologies based at a company’s office — and how people do business.

“It is basically divorced from the location where business is conducted — the hotel room in Hong Kong where someone is using his mobile, connecting to an Amazon Web Services data centre, or Salesforce or Workday,” he said.

Cato Networks hopes to become the network security equivalent of Amazon Web Services, he added, referring to the ecommerce group’s booming cloud services business.

The start-up is the latest in a series of cyber security companies to be founded in Israel, where an average of 66 have been started each year since 2012.

The data, compiled by IVC Research Center, which focuses on Israel’s technology industry, found a total of 430 cyber security companies and 40 foreign research and development centres in the country.

In a world desperate for more cyber security professionals to defend against increasingly sophisticated hackers, Israel has succeeded in creating an experienced workforce, many of whom were trained in an elite part of the Israel Defense Forces known as Unit 8200. When they leave the army, many go on to form their own companies.
Cato Networks will focus on the same area of cyber security as Check Point, which Mr Kramer co-founded, and Palo Alto Networks, the Silicon Valley company in which he was an early investor.

But he said it would avoid direct competition by targeting medium-sized businesses because they struggle the most to connect the various solutions needed to protect a network when employees are mobile.

The company is already working with customers in beta mode across several sectors.