#StartupSpotlight is a series on Information Age shining a light on Australian start-ups disrupting the status quo.

October 2017.

Cog Systems and SIEMonster are selected alongside four other Australian cyber security start-ups to take part in the AusTrade Landing Pad program in San Francisco.

Working on their individual projects alongside one another, Cog and SIEMonster soon identify synergies between their work.

Flashforward six months, and their collaboration ‘Redback’ is chosen as one of the top ten solutions to watch at RSA, the world’s biggest cyber security conference.

What started off as office chitchat between Founder of Cog, Carl Nerup, and CEO of SIEMonster, Chris Rock, is now poised to become one of Australia’s cyber security success stories.

Speaking to Information Age, the founders discussed how their collaboration came about.

“We’re all in a room together,” says CMO and Founder of Cog Systems, Carl Nerup. “There’s no cubes, it’s a table, so you’ve got to talk to people eventually.”

“Chris Rock from SIEMonster and I were natural friends. So, as we start to talk, he tells me about his solution, which is an absolute gamechanger.”

The ‘gamechanger’ Nerup is referring to is SIEMonster’s Micro-SIEM, a small, low-cost appliance that monitors Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sends an alert to the user’s phone when there has been an attempted cyber attack on a network.

“I say to him, ‘one of the things you might want to look at doing is further hardening your device, because the data you are gathering is so critical.’”

From there it's decided Cog’s D4 Secure platform will be embedded into SIEMonster’s Micro-SIEM -- and Redback is born.

Cog’s D4 Secure platform provides the Micro-SIEM with storage encryption, a hardened operating system and a secure VPN, making Redback one of the hottest products in cyber security this year.

Redback notifies users when there has been a breach. Source: SIEMonster

The added security it provides was enough to prompt Atlassian Co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes to lead a $3.5 million investment into Cog Systems late last year.

Rock from SIEMonster explains that by securing the SIEMonster, the practical applications of the product are now seemingly endless.

“Us working together was a perfect arrangement,” he says. “We can now put these Micro-SIEMs into mining sites, remote airports, manufacturing zones or cash registers and we know the data is going to be protected.”

The need for IoT security

With Australia’s 5G network inching closer each day and Gartner predicting that by 2020 IoT technology will be in 95% of new electronic product designs, there has never been a greater need to secure IoT devices.

Cog CEO and founder, Dr Daniel Potts, points out that while the IoT will open new avenues, it will also exacerbate existing problems.

“We used to have just a few small hand-held devices, maybe a phone and a PC,” he says. “Things crash, they fail and there are risks of malware.”

“So, if you go from the three devices to 300, which is what organisations like Gartner are predicting, imagine taking the failure rates that we’re seeing and multiplying that by 300.

“Minimum, it’s going to be very irritating but worse still, imagine it from an attack point of view and from a threat vulnerability point of view.

“Security is critical for the success of IoT – we need to make sure that those systems are built better so that failure rate is reduced.”

A Landing Pad success story

The Landing Pad program was launched by AusTrade at the beginning of 2016.

It brings exciting local start-ups out of Australia and into Silicon Valley for a 90-day residency at the WeWork shared workspaces, with access to local investors and industry leaders.

“The thing about the Landing Pad is that it really gives an environment for a start-up to focus and go accomplish your goals,” says Nerup. “All your distractions are gone – you don’t have your family here and you don’t have your friends.”

“So, you really get the chance to dig in and get a lot of work done in a very short period of time.”

What’s the one piece of advice Nerup would give to a start-up at the start of the 90 days?

Be clear about your goals.

“Naturally with every start-up, things change,” he says. “They evolve and shift and move.”

“But if you’re crisp about your objectives you tend to go execute very effectively against those goals.”

What’s next?

Redback will be available in the third quarter this year, with the aim to instantly introduce it into the IoT space for companies of all sizes.

While the commercial opportunities are glaring, Rock admits that the ultimate goal is to bring Redback into the home.

“We’d love to have a SIEM for the home market so that people can put in one of these Redback Micro-SIEMs into their home,” says Rock.

“We can then bring in SIEMs from their treadmill and home cinemas and all the stuff we take for granted now, but you never know who’s logged onto these devices.”