An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Marc Feghali, the co-founder and the VP of Product Management of Attivo Networks, which was honored in our:
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Fremont
- 2019 Best Tech Startups in Fremont
- 2018 Best Tech Startups in Fremont
Tell us the origin story of Attivo Networks – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Attivo Networks started at a time of rapid innovation and change. Companies were moving to the cloud, they had access to more computing power than ever, and millions of IoT and operational technology (OT) devices were going online. Things were moving so fast that security just couldn’t keep up and as such, attackers were successfully stealing sensitive data and compromising systems for ransomware attacks. In this era, traditional solutions were no longer reliably working, and organizations were being driven to shift their strategies to factor in controls for the early detection of in-network threats. Most attempts to detect threats were challenged as they were limited to known attacks, pattern matching, behavioral analysis, or finding anomalies. In turn, this generated massive amounts of data and false-positive alerts that overwhelmed security teams. The time an attacker could remain undetected averaged over 100 days. A change in approach was desperately needed to tip the balance of power back to the defenders. Deception, which has been used for millennia to outmaneuver one’s adversary, was the approach that Attivo set its sights on. Bringing a commercial grade of cyber deception to the market introduced a new depth of security that could scale to new attack surfaces and achieve the detection needed by organizations both small and large.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
One of the biggest hurdles in bringing a new solution to the market is getting access to budget, especially when the technology isn’t simply next generation or fully understood. It’s even harder when customers don’t want to admit they’re using the technology because they don’t want to tip off employees or external attackers. To combat the desire for stealthy deployments, we worked closely with the analyst community, media outlets, and event organizers to educate, explain our vision, and approach, as well as to communicate the value that customers can achieve. We were also able to build a terrific peer reference program and were pleasantly surprised by how many customers agreed with our premise and achieved clear benefits from our solutions. It was extremely rewarding to see the solution adopted by companies of all sizes in all industries.
What does the future hold for Attivo Networks?
We are extremely pleased to see global growth due to our solution’s ability to remove security gaps and to reduce overall security risk. We’re seeing solid adoption across companies of all sizes and across all verticals. To respond to this demand, we have added sales and support across the world and currently have operations in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. As we continue to grow, we have also broadened the solution’s capabilities so that the platform now provides a full deception fabric of decoys, bait, lures, and mis-directions designed to detect and derail attacks from any threat vector and across any attack surface. We currently have over 200 employees and have been on the Deloitte Fast 500 list for the last two years, which represents the speed of growth that the company has experienced.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Fremont?
Fremont is an undiscovered gem in the Silicon Valley, and it provides numerous advantages that enabled Attivo to grow. Chief among those advantages is access to Silicon Valley talent, which is comprised of some of the most skilled and experienced folks in the world. Additionally, Fremont offers easy commuting options for Bay Area employees, with quick access to freeways and BART services. Fremont also offers great office space at very competitive prices. I encourage more startups to consider Fremont as a base.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I would tell aspiring entrepreneurs to be ready to really commit to the business and be prepared to invest the majority of your time to making your company a success. In order to keep sales and investments coming, you need to quickly prove you’ve built an innovative product and that it solves a problem in ways that other solutions do not. As you grow, you will also need to demonstrate customer traction and success. That takes time, determination, and dedication. Stay focused on your goals, avoid distraction, and build a talented team of people that share common values in order to build a great culture and company.