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Fortanix Runtime Encryption Platform Protects Applications Even When The Infrastructure Is Compromised

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Below is our recent interview with Ambuj Kumar, CEO and Co-founder of Fortanix:

Q: It has been quite a while since we last spoke. How have things been going at Fortanix?

A: Things have been going very well for us, and 2018 was a year full of milestones. Early in the year we were announced as the runner-up for the “most innovative startup” distinction among hundreds of security companies that participated in the Innovation Sandbox competition at the RSA Conference. This is one of the most prestigious awards a security startup could wish for! In addition, Gartner named Fortanix as a 2018 Cool Vendor. We also launched our channel partner program to help us meet growing global demand for our Self-Defending Key Management Service™ (SDKMS) next-generation hardware security module (HSM) solution, and released a new channel-friendly SDKMS appliance, the FX2200 appliance node.

While we were the first company to recognize the power of protected enclaves to secure enterprise applications, 2018 also saw a much wider adoption of Intel Software Guard Extension (SGX). Today, IBM has Data Shield powered by Fortanix, and Microsoft has Azure Confidential Cloud.

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Q: How have your Runtime Encryption® technology and SDKMS advanced since we last spoke?

A: Our Runtime Encryption® technology has been hallmark of deterministic security. If you have a sensitive application that needs protection from a root user, cloud providers, or even operating systems, Runtime Encryption technology builds upon Intel® SGX to provide an entirely new level of security that the industry has been chasing after for long time.

We also rolled out the ability to secure Python- and R-based applications using Intel® SGX that have widespread use in the data science community, meaning developers and data scientists can now train artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms leveraging sensitive data as inputs without compromising on the confidentiality of the data.

SDKMS continued to evolve and add important functionalities during the year, influenced by customer feedback and industry demand. In January we enhanced our SDKMS with data protection features and location-based access controls specifically to help organizations meet pending GDPR requirements for the regulation that was coming in May.

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Q: How have things looked on the partner and customer fronts?

A: So many great advances! ELASTX deployed SDKMS to power its OpenStack IaaS based in Sweden. We continued to expand our partner ecosystem, including integrating SDKMS with new technology partners to offer new Next-Generation HSM and key management solutions. For example, we partnered with Alibaba Cloud to integrate SDKMS with the Alibaba Cloud platform, enabling them to introduce new levels of security and privacy with Runtime Encryption key management in the cloud.

Our work with Equinix to power its SmartKey™ HSM-as-a-service, and with IBM which selected Fortanix for its IBM Cloud Data Shield to use Fortanix’s Runtime Encryption Platform on the IBM Cloud, is well documented.

Q: Anything else you would like to tell us about Fortanix’s year?

A: It’s been a banner year for Fortanix on the industry recognition and awards fronts. In addition to the RSA and Gartner distinctions I already discussed, Fortanix during this past year won many important company and product awards. The most prestigious of these included winning the Cyber Defense Global Award, the Platinum Award in the ASTOR Homeland Security Awards Program, the Startup of the Year Award in the International Business Awards Program, securing three awards in the Info Security Products Guide’s Global Excellence Award Program, and being named a finalist in the SC Awards Program.

Q: What major trends do you see for next year?

A: Security continues to be the number one concern cited by enterprises in their move to cloud. In 2019, customers will ask for more control over their security destiny. Development of protected enclaves is giving sensitive applications a safe place to keep themselves protected from today’s infrastructure threats. Apple uses protected regions of hardware to secure personal data on iPhones. In the New Year, similar enclave-based security will become mainstream for sensitive cloud applications as customers demand definitive protection from infrastructure threats.

AI is moving to a state where it is becoming so fundamental that it will impact almost everything we do. Data is recognized as critical in driving AI functions. New types of privacy-aware frameworks will emerge in 2019 to protect all this data. For example, a healthcare business will be able to securely use AI and ML with the most sensitive patient data, providing new insights for diseases such as cancer and helping with highly personalized drug discovery.

Finally, the line between IOT and edge-cloud is getting blurred. With IOT devices’ increasing capability, they will face stronger scrutiny from a security and privacy perspective. For example, more states will follow the lead of California in demanding IOT devices provide “reasonable security” and privacy. IOT devices today have the capability to burn houses and regulate blood-flow – and regulations on how they are secured will be needed.

Q: And what can we expect to see from Fortanix in 2019?

A: Fortanix’s mission is to solve cloud security and privacy altogether! We want data breaches to be the exception, not the norm. We are still in the early days of our journey. 2019 will see us support even wider classes of applications, on an even wider array of computing platforms.

Q: It’s been great speaking with you, anything else you would like to share as we close?

A: It’s been my pleasure to talk to you. One thing I’ll add is that the industry considers security to be a mess and a never-ending cat-and-mouse game. So, while our mission of solving cloud security and privacy may be difficult, it’s not impossible. It looks impossible only because it’s not been done before.

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