Hysolate: This Startup Improves Enterprise Security Through The Use Of A Virtual Air Gap

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Hysolate is an Israel-based cybersecurity company that recently exited from stealth and announced it raised $8 million in funding from Team8 and Innovation Endeavors, the venture capital firm headed up by former Alphabet (Google) executive chairman Eric Schmidt. Hysolate is the fourth company launched by Team8, a cyber “think tank” that facilitates the development of cybersecurity companies and is backed by Microsoft and Qualcomm. Team8’s leadership team is comprised of cyber veterans from unit 8200 (Israel’s NSA).

Hysolate was founded by CEO Tal Zamir and COO Dan Dinnar. Zamir is a veteran of an elite Israeli cyber technology unit and former research and development leader at Wanova (acquired by VMware) and Dinnar is the former CEO of HexaTier (acquired by Huawei) and a former executive sales officer at CyberArk Software.

Due to cyber threats, enterprises typically lock down their hardware by preventing employees from accessing certain websites, installing apps or connecting USB devices. In many cases, large companies require employees to carry separate laptops and devices for personal and business use. This is known as an “air gap” security model, and while this approach improves security, productivity is severely impacted.

What does Hysolate do? Hysolate has developed a hybrid endpoint architecture that allows enterprises to seamlessly run multiple fully-isolated operating systems on a single workstation. By providing reliable security that assumes the operating system can be compromised, this makes life easier for company employees.

Hysolate’s patented virtual air gap technology splits an endpoint into two isolated operating systems: one is an unlocked operating system with full freedom and the other a locked down operating system that can only be used for accessing enterprise resources. This essentially protects sensitive assets regardless of the type of attack vector that is used by malware attacks. If a nefarious actor tricks the user into installing malware or infect the latest Windows zero-day vulnerability, attackers are trapped in one operating system without being able to access the other. Hysolate is deployed below the operating systems, creating a platform for security, manageability and productivity – similar to what VMware did to the server world decades ago.

To learn more about Hysolate, I interviewed Zamir who told me that he started playing with the internals of computers and operating systems as a kid in the 1980s and has been passionate about programming and hacking ever since then. Zamir earned an MSc in Computer Science from the Technion (“Israel’s MIT”) and during his extended army service, led research and development in an elite Israeli cyber technology unit.

When I asked Zamir what led to his decision to leave VMware following the acquisition of Wanova, he said that he truly enjoyed leading research and development and innovating with VMware’s CTO office. However, Zamir admitted that he “missed the startup pace and took the opportunity to make a huge impact together with Team8.”

How did Zamir come up with the idea for Hysolate? Zamir told me that he was lucky to join forces with Team8’s research and development team to build the product prototype together with a team of engineers. At that time, Zamir said they also started validating the business needs by meeting with top U.S. chief information security officers (CISOs). During the validation period, Zamir said they found the company actually hit on a huge unmet need in the market. And after the validation phase, Hysolate selected several world-class designer partners that were enthused about trying out early versions of our product.

Zamir told me that Hysolate is the first company to introduce a virtual air gap solution, explaining that with a virtual air gap, it would be as if you had two separate laptops on your desk in terms of security, but without the “burden of actually carrying two laptops or working with two separate operating systems.”

When asked about Hysolate’s customers, Zamir said that the company cannot share specific customer details yet, but he did reveal ut that they are working with “top enterprises in the U.S., including top banks, tech companies, law firms, etc.” But Zamir provided an example of how their technology could benefit banks.

“Banks are using the SWIFT system to transfer funds. In the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of SWIFT-related breaches, in which hackers penetrated endpoints, observed how the SWIFT systems are being used and were able to steal millions of dollars and then hide their tracks. The SWIFT organization now recommends its customers to air gap SWIFT payment endpoints from the rest of the network,” Zamir pointed out. “With Hysolate, customers can do that seamlessly without needing to actually buy another endpoint, clear desk space for another workstation, etc.”

Another example is a law firm in which attorneys need to be able to work anywhere, with any laptop, any app and any network. “Following the mountains of pinpointed security solutions layered on top of their Windows PCs, it’s hard for them to get even basic work done, including communicating with their customers or working at home. With Hysolate, users can do whatever they want on their laptops without compromising sensitive information,” Zamir added.

What are Hysolate’s future goals? Zamir said that virtual air gaps are just the beginning of their journey. “Users are now expecting to work anywhere with any device, any OS, any app and any cloud service,” he explained. Our architecture allows us to be ready for tomorrow’s vulnerabilities.”