Juniper doubles down on cybersecurity: buys startup Cyphort, releases Contrail Security service

cybersecurity, 2017, Accenture Security
Cybersecurity remains a hot topic. Image: Accenture

Juniper Networks continued to underscore its focus on the cybersecurity market with dueling announcements including the acquisition of a cybersecurity startup and the release of a new service the company said could protect applications running in multiple cloud environments. The actions come just a month after Juniper hired former Google engineer Bikash Koley as its new CTO, with oversight of product lines including some of the company’s security offerings.

Broadly, Juniper positioned the moves as an attempt by the company to more effectively protect SDN-powered networks, both for enterprises and service providers.

"Juniper Networks has a strong history in both network orchestration and security. The next five years will be critical for companies that are planning to transform their network infrastructure,” said Jeff Wilson, research director and advisor for cybersecurity at research firm IHS Markit, in a release from Juniper. “Security buyers deploying complex SDN-enabled networks would be wise to consider vendors with a deep expertise in network orchestration."

First, and perhaps most importantly, Juniper’s Kevin Hutchins announced the company acquired startup Cyphort, a security software company that has raised a whopping $53.7 million in venture funding in four rounds, according to Crunchbase; the company provides mid- and large-size enterprise customers with security analytics for threat defense. Hutchins said Juniper would add the company’s operations into its Sky ATP solution, thus allowing it to offer “an enhanced solution for both on-premises and cloud - providing the best of both worlds for customers.”

“Cyphort will seamlessly integrate into Juniper’s Sky ATP platform to provide customers with improved performance, an increased range of supported file types and additional threat detection capabilities (e.g., on- and off-premises support, cloud email, analytics and improved malware detection),” wrote Hutchins, Juniper’s SVP of strategy and product line management.

Separately, Juniper announced its new Contrail Security service, which the company described as a “microsegmentation” solution specifically designed to allow enterprises and software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud providers protect applications running in multiple cloud environments.

“Contrail Security enables an innovative response to the heightened risk brought about by today's cloud workloads and applications. Practitioners will have visibility and control with simplified operations driven by consistent, intent-driven security policies that seamlessly interoperate with existing security controls and virtual environments,” the company wrote in a release. “With Contrail Security, Juniper Networks is transforming the way enterprises and SaaS cloud providers protect, manage and monitor their cloud-native applications in heterogeneous environments.”

In a separate post on the product, Juniper’s Pratik Roychowdhury explained that Contrail Security will be able to provide cyber protection services across both public and private clouds as well as bare metal servers, virtual machines, within or without containers, and across arbitrary data centers.

Further, he noted that Contrail Security offers a range of options for network operators: “The Contrail Security Analytics module collects telemetry from all enforcement points, analyzes the data, and presents it to the user in the form of detailed visualization,” he wrote. “Contrail Security takes this a step further by using machine learning techniques to drive anomaly detection for operator assistance. It learns normal behavior of traffic flows, packets on interfaces, and so on, and then creates a baseline. Abnormal traffic patterns, in the form of deviation from the baseline, trigger events notifying operators and allowing them to proactively quarantine suspect workloads.”

Juniper’s investments into cybersecurity come at a critical time for both the company and the wider tech industry. Cyber threats have clearly risen to the forefront in recent years as networks and enterprises suffer hacks both small and big; HBO is perhaps just the latest major business to fall prey to hackers. In response, a range of vendors targeting the sector are hoping to both stem the tide of cyber attacks and profit in the process.