Companies are under siege from cyber attacks that result in massive data breaches, phishing scams, ransomware, cryptojacking, and more. As technology changes and evolves, the threat landscape expands and becomes more complex as well, making it more and more challenging to try and defend against malware and cybercriminals. It’s time for a new cybersecurity strategy. It takes a village as they say, though, which is why Intel Capital is focused on investing in a diverse portfolio of innovative cybersecurity companies.
Intel is a global household name for its processors, but it also has a venture capital and private equity arm. Intel Capital has been investing in technology companies since 1991 and has an established track record of fostering innovative concepts and technologies through its investments.
Investing in Innovation
Intel has put in a fair amount of effort in an attempt to fully bake cybersecurity into its technology strategy. The acquisition, integration, and eventual spinoff of McAfee played a central role in recent years and demonstrated that the road is not necessarily easy. Intel is still focused on improving cybersecurity, though, and has made a decision to disregard business as usual and try a different approach. Now, they’re focused on cybersecurity and will continue to invest in the industry.
I had an opportunity to speak with Sunil Kurkure, Managing Director of Intel Capital about Intel Capital’s most recent investment, Duality Technologies. Kurkure shared some of the thinking behind the investment in Duality and how Intel has revamped its cybersecurity strategy through its investments in security startups and its plans for 2020.
Duality Technologies is a leading provider of privacy-enhancing data science solutions based on homomorphic encryption. According to a press release about the investment, “The Duality SecurePlus platform is the first market-ready solution addressing today’s most pressing data privacy challenges arising from enterprises’ need to collaborate on sensitive data by applying Machine Learning and AI-based analytics. As the data-driven economy expands rapidly in all market segments, Duality’s platform enables multiple parties to maximize data utility by collaborating on sensitive data while preserving privacy, in compliance with growing data privacy regulations.”
That’s just the most recent jewel in the Intel Capital cybersecurity crown, though. Intel Capital is also an investor in Synack, Eclypsium, Fortanix, and more. Intel Capital is one of the largest cybersecurity investors in the world—and cybersecurity is the number one sector these days in terms of investment dollars. There is a ton of investment going on, and huge potential for high returns.
Kurkure explained to me that the Intel Capital investment philosophy around cybersecurity is to partner with innovative companies that can integrate and work with Intel to create a more holistic approach to cybersecurity. As opposed to the acquisition path Intel pursued with McAfee, the new strategy is to invest in companies that provide some synergy and that can collaborate with Intel—and with each other—in a way where the sum is hopefully greater than its parts.
With Duality in particular, Kurkure stressed the importance of the privacy space right now. Privacy has been huge over the past few years and companies must comply with legislative mandates like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumers Privacy Act (CCPA). Duality has a solution that can facilitate sharing and collaboration while protecting privacy. Kurkure told me that homomorphic encryption—the technology at the heart of the Duality solution—has been a research project for years but has only recently come to fruition in the real world.
I asked Kurkure what’s on the horizon—what are the cybersecurity and technology challenges that need to be addressed in the coming years. He stressed that there will continue to be growth and innovation in machine learning and artificial intelligence, cloud and edge computing, container technologies, and a continued focus on privacy and how to aggregate and anonymize data to derive value from it without infringing on privacy.
Expect to see Intel Capital continue to invest in companies that are developing innovative technologies and solutions. Kurkure summed up with, “We are trying to partner with the best companies to develop the best solutions and outcomes for our customers.”
By Tony Bradley